Blog: Raising the Standard

Blog: Raising the Standard

Effective CIOs of the future will be those who ensure the entire organization is engaged in setting the IT agenda, managing the priorities for IT and ensuring that the operational use of IT is sustaining the organization appropriately.

That work will be a whole lot easier, according to independent expert on corporate governance Mark Toomey, for CIOs who fully embrace the Australian Standard for Corporate Governance of ICT as the key to assigning responsibility for ICT.

Toomey, founder of ICT Governance specialists Infonomics and senior member of the Australian Computer Society (ACS), says CIOs of all stamps should be looking to embrace, if possible, both the Australian Standard AS 8015:2005 Corporate Governance of Information and Communication Technology, which was drafted in the context of significant corporate failures in Australia, and the International Standard which improves on it.

"What the standard gives the CIO is a set of key points for the organization to take on board that enables the top of the organization to become responsible and set the agenda, working with and through the CIO to make it all happen," Toomey says.

"The value for a CIO here is that this is the standard that says to the board and to the chief executive and to the rest of the C-team that it's not just the CIO's problem to deal with IT - that they actually all have a role to play in determining how IT is used in achieving the organization's objectives."

Of course the challenge the CIO faces in deciding to unilaterally adopt standards is that the behaviour that they need to work on is typically the behaviour that is exhibited by the CEO, the COO, CSO, the CMO and so on. The first job CIOs eager to adopt the standard need to do is to develop the understanding of the CEO and members of the board that just as finance has broadly-spread responsibilities, so does IT, and it is up to the CEO and board to start developing a new paradigm for how they engage in planning and control, Toomey says.

The Australian Standard provides guiding principles for directors of organizations (including owners, board members, directors, partners, senior executives, or similar) on the effective, efficient, and acceptable use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) within their organization.

Embraced more enthusiastically overseas than in Australia to date, 8015 is unique in recognizing that governance of IT is as much a demand problem as a supply problem, and that demand is driven by the business. Toomey says the International Standards Organization, which adopted a slightly modified form of 8015 in November 2007, has followed that lead.

It applies to the governance of resources, computer-based or otherwise, used to provide information and communication services to an organization. These resources could be provided by ICT specialists, within the organization or external service providers, or by business units within the organization.

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