Disaster recovery may be top of mind for many CIOs in Australia, where recent calamities have included flooding in Queensland and Victoria, cyclones in Queensland and massive bush fires in Western Australia. Allan Davies, a member of the CIO Executive Council and CIO of logistics firm Dematic, counsels that the first priority in any plan should be ensuring the safety of people – “ensure your IT team are fully aware of their responsibilities in the event of an evacuation”, he says. And disaster recovery today must go far beyond simply recovering IT services; rather, IT needs to develop a comprehensive business continuity plan. “The key word here is ‘business’ and it’s imperative that the ‘business’ takes ownership of the processes. In my experience, however, this still seems to fall on the shoulders of the CIO, so be prepared and step up to the plate. Seize the opportunity; it’s another avenue to demonstrate the value of IT to the business,” Davies says.
The challenge of helping to build an automobile start-up in India drew Mohit Agarwal to Carnation Auto India as its vice president for IT. The brainchild of Maruti Suzuki's famed former CEO, Jagdish Khattar, Carnation was the country’s first multi-brand automobile sales and service network – going after a $3.3 billion market. The concept tapped into a latent desire among car owners for a branded, transparent, and efficient way to get their cars serviced. (In developed markets, a third of cars are serviced by third-party operators like Carnation). Until Carnation came along, car owners had two choices: Dealer service centers or unlicensed garages. One of the pillars on which Khattar sold the new idea was the transparency that IT systems could bring to customers. The CEO “made it crystal clear from the start that he wanted an IT infrastructure that would be a benchmark for this industry in India -- and he expected me to move beyond my role and take strategic business decisions as well," recalls Agarwal. His first big move was to implement SAP, and the results are processes detailed and defined around precision, clock-in clock-out time frames for every job and each level, and multi-resource scheduling, which today, contribute to Carnation's competitive edge.
As if being the CIO of Great Britain's largest airport operator BAA wasn't a hectic enough life, Philip Langsdale spends his free time managing a historic boat builders from Cornwall. In 2009, Langsdale acquired the assets of a failing boat-building business now known as Cornish Crabbers. He is the company's owner and its chairman - a job he has to juggle with his task of running IT for the owner of six British airports including Heathrow. With his grey beard, he wouldn't look out of place at the tiller of one of his boats and confesses to being a keen sailor himself for around 20 years. This is the reason why Langsdale's interest was caught by the company. Select Yachts, as it was known, went into administration in October 2008. Langsdale was notified by the administrators because he owned a Cornish Crabber, and as a committed and loyal customer, he was moved to consider saving the company."First of all it was an emotional response, because it's such a great brand that you can't let it go," he explained.
At Country Garden Group, one of China’s largest property development companies, vice president Liang Deli has been focused on systems that help executives of the company better control its processes from design through construction and decoration. One particular challenge has been to enable senior management to easily get up-to-date information on housing projects. Liang’s team integrated data from different sources onto one platform and added functions similar to Google maps. Managers simply click on map locations to see all the information about particular houses without typing a word. That navigation system has set a benchmark for IT at property companies.
Contributors: Debarati Roy, Mark Chillingworth, Alice Xu, Allan Davies