Working on cloud, mobile and information projects within international analyst firm, Gartner, while keeping the CFO happy is a balancing act which global CIO Darko Hrelic has juggled for almost six years.
US-based Hrelic spoke with CIO Australia during his visit to the Gold Coast for Gartner’s annual Symposium/ITxpo
What does your role at Gartner involve?
As the global CIO of Gartner, my role is to play an integral part of innovation at the company whether that is products, customer facing or internal. It comes down to innovating new mobile applications or just new capabilities to help the business.
As CIO, do you worry that your role will be phased out because of cloud/outsourcing?
If I was thinking of my role as it was five years ago, absolutely, that [CIO] role is history. If I look at my role as being much more strategic for the company, then not at all. It’s becoming a more important role so we’re hiring [IT] people who can improve the value proposition of products that we deliver and support.
How important is it for you to have a good relationship with the CFO?
Paramount. I find ways to help the CFO meet his objectives which are financially related and in turn, he helps me to innovate. The partnership is extremely important because if the CFO just cares about shrinking the budget and the CIO only cares about getting a bigger budget it’s a mismatch. At the end of the day the company loses.
What are some of the challenges you face in the role of CIO?
The pace of change is increasing so things are getting more complicated, they are not getting simpler. Information technology needs to make things simpler because it is too complex for users as well.
Skills. If there are existing people in the organisation they need to be retrained or we need to find new people out in the market. Companies are smart enough to hold onto good [IT] people.
IT mindset change. People need to step back and say, "We’re going to be partners in this to jointly innovate new ideas." That’s critical because the complexity and volume of information out there is difficult for even technical people to keep up with.
What are some of the technology projects you have been working on?
We’re working on Gartner’s nexus of forces which includes the intersection of cloud, mobile, social and information. We are using over 12 cloud services but very strategically because we have to be careful about our data and who has access to it. The conversations that analysts have with vendors or clients cannot get out of our hands.
With mobility, we’re way down that path. As a company, 70 per cent of our people travel so laptops and mobile devices are their office. For smartphone and tablets, we offer bring your own device support. None of our staff have desktop computers, even our receptionists use notebooks. Everyone uses laptops or tablets so if there is a [natural] disaster they can work from home.
What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?
Having the right skills in your organisation. If you don’t have the people then it is very difficult to make progress.
Dealing with complexity and having architectures/technologies that are ready for agility. The only thing you can count on these days is that anything you are doing today, a year down the road things are going to change. Your architecture and technologies need to allow for that.
What is your favourite gadget?
I can do my work on my iPhone or iPad which is great as I don’t need to unpack my laptop.
Hamish Barwick travelled to Gartner Symposium on the Gold Coast as a guest of Good Technology
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick