The CIO’s bi-modal innovation agenda

One of the key questions organisations should ask themselves is whether their current environment allows them to ‘fail safe’, says Steve Griffin, New Zealand country manager for Unisys.

“We should take the heat out of failure,” he says. “Without failure, there is no innovation.”

The key, he says, is for organisations to have a culture that encourages people to learn quick and fail safe without compromising mission critical systems.

Failing is only failure if you fail to learn, says Griffin, who spoke at the CIO100 events in Auckland and Wellington. “Let’s use ‘learn’ in place of fail.”

He says when organisations try something that did not work out, they are actually on the way to a breakthrough.

The bottom line is there is no innovation without failure, says Griffin.

Related: Across the board: More CIOs are being appointed to the board or are tasked to present regularly to this group as a member of the technology committee. Gartner executives Denildo Albuquerque and David Spaziani – both former CIOs – share pointers for stepping up to this role.

The bottom line is there is no innovation without failure. Steve Griffin, Unisys

The next CIO role

“The future is not what it used to be; the world is changing fast,” says Griffin.

He turns to the view of that: “Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow!”

The change management consultancy predicts in five years the world will be 32 times more technologically advanced than before, and in 10 years it will be 1000 times more technologically advanced.

“We need to look at innovation in the context of the rate of change,” he says.

Organisations, however, may not be prepared to operate in this fast paced environment.

Some questions they need to ask include: “What does this mean for our business and our organisations? What does this mean for IT leaders going forward? What is our competition doing in an environment which is 1000 times more technologically advanced than we are today? What will the citizens be demanding if they are 1000 times more technologically advanced than today?”

He believes the next role of the CIO is “to establish an environment that enables the organisation to capitalise on the rate of technology change”.

To this, he espouses a bimodal environment. One will be around critical applications, critical infrastructure, and the other side will be web interfaces where organisations have to be a lot more agile.

“There will still be the pursuit of perfection, zero risk and majority of us will have to be in an environment where we have to be quick and fail safe,” he states.

“We are not advocating recklessness, we build mission critical systems and we understand criticality, reliability and security,” he states.

“As you go through the innovation continuum, you need to be able to operate on the right hand side, on the quick fail safe, without impacting mission critical systems on the left.”

In pictures: CIO100 event in Auckland: Preparing for the digital future

What will the citizens be demanding if they are 1000 times more technologically advanced than today? Steve Griffin, Unisys

He says legacy systems can also be around the sales cycle. “Our processes need to keep pace with change too.”

In pictures: CIO100 event in Wellington: Frontline leadership

If we continue with the two-year sales cycle, we will be continuing with things that are obsolete at the point of integration.

For instance, if the organisation will decide to buy Go Pros, and follow the 18-month processing cycle, the devices will be on their fourth model.

“Innovation is at a continuum and we need to have a different approach,” he states.

There are very real situations where a conservative approach makes sense, he says, such as managing performance within mature businesses. “But innovation is not one of them.”

Related: Primed for change: CIOs from New Zealand’s largest ICT using organisations harness an arsenal of leadership and technology tools to succeed in a constantly evolving business environment.

Cisco, Unisys and Datacom are the sponsors of the 2015 CIO100 events in Wellington and Auckland.

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