Global CIO: Business Execs, Not Technologists, Leading Tech Innovation
So says a top exec from Indian service provider Infosys, which is spending more time with CFOs and business unit leaders as those execs drive more IT projects.
Infosys views tech projects in three big buckets: optimization, which is conventional outsourcing of IT operations and application development, with an emphasis on cost cutting; transformation, which is focused on reinventing the IT systems to support growth initiatives; and business innovation, which includes tech-driven product innovations, efforts like an iPad app for retail employees to check customers out.
That's a quick check of an IT organization's focus. How much of the IT staff and budget falls into each of these buckets? Is there a way to move more out of the optimization bucket and into transformation and business innovation?
Here are Vemuri's insights into a few other areas, based on what he's hearing from customers:
On Cloud Computing: As recently as a year ago, different units of the same bank didn't even want to share IT resources. Even a private cloud was too big a leap. "Today, that's an increasingly acceptable proposition," he says, though most companies (not just banks) still aren't very comfortable with public cloud services.
Vemuri contends that most companies also don't have the skills to build and run cloud platforms. Infosys likewise is having to hire and then train people in those skills. "You need an absolutely new discipline of engineering," he says. Vemuri's pitch, naturally, is that companies should let Infosys spend the money retraining its people, rather than do it themselves.
On Hard-To-Find Skills: Infosys estimates salaries will rise 10% to 11% for its employees in India this year, and 2% to 3% elsewhere. But it'll have to pay even higher premiums for these innovation skills it's after. "As we are hiring more and more people in the local markets, and hiring for specific skills sets, very hard-to-get skill sets, those will come at a fairly higher cost," Vemuri says. "Our expectation is this is something we have to do as we move up the value chain."
IT architecture skills fall into that realm. So do specialized industry skills--people who have worked on IT systems for bank regulatory compliance, for instance.
On U.S. Companies' IT Plans: Infosys sees the U.S. as a "re-emerging market," Vemuri says, ready to make significant investments, especially on customer-facing projects, as well as those related to new regulations, such as Dodd-Frank in banking.
"This trend we started seeing last year, where the business has an equal role if not a more than equal role in technology decision-making, is going to stay, and that's a trend we're watching very, very closely," Vemuri says.
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