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Full Throttle Innovation

Full Throttle Innovation

Motivated by business needs and the conviction that technology-enabled change can create new value, CIOs are embracing IT innovation as a tool for transformation

Although Cesare Tizi's perspective on innovation has matured mightily during the course of a long and successful career, he says that is only to be expected. Tizi, who over his 30-year career has headed up IT at such diverse organizations as Motorola, Australian Wool Association, Transurban and most recently AGL, believes most CIOs go through a similar progression as their views on the role of IT in advancing innovation mature, as their stature within their business grows, and especially if and when the business itself finally ripens into recognition that the most fundamental tool of its trade in the 21st century is IT.

"Early in your career you are about good IT; it's about doing things well and being innovative within a technological space — that very traditional type of approach," Tizi says. "As you go forward you say: 'Gee, why did the business make that decision? It could be made better if they understood that they could have done this or they could have done that from a technological point of view.' And then you begin to realize what's happening is that from a business point of view their fundamental tool of trade isn't the brochure any more, or the marketing stand, it is IT. Their call centre runs on IT. Their whole distribution network runs on IT. Their supply chain systems are all IT. Now, IT is becoming the biggest significant tool of trade of the business."

IT is successful when the business has those early strategic meetings and the head of the business unit says: 'We'd better invite the CIO because without him, we can't progress this meeting'

Cesare Tizi, ex-CIO Australian Wool Association, Transurban and AGL

Yet as the State of the CIO 2007 survey makes clear, many Australian organizations have still to truly internalize that reality, seriously limiting their prospects of achieving innovative solutions to stubborn problems. Underlying the research findings seems to be a level of frustration among Australian CIOs at the many roadblocks their organizations keep putting in the way — intentionally or unintentionally — of IT's involvement in innovation. Lack of resources. Lack of time. Lack of understanding by the senior management team of IT possibilities and benefits. Not being privy to executive strategic planning. Getting buy-in from regional offices. Old processes. The list goes on in a similar vein.

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