James Scott has held the position of chief information officer at Toyota Australia since 2007. His career with the company dates back to 1987 when he joined the purchasing division.
Scott is currently in the process of an SAP operating system upgrade for the car manufacturer. He took time out to speak with CIO Australia about staff recruitment, IT projects and keeping pace with new technology.
What does an average work day involve for you at Toyota Australia?
Toyota is a collaborative culture so an average day involves looking at issues, going to the source of the issue and working with staff and management to analyse them. I have to balance this with examining strategic long-term goals for the business.
What are some of the challenges you face in the role of CIO?
We don’t do IT security as well as we should so we’ve got some challenges to improve that. Four months ago we hired an IT security manager and his first task was to create a three to five-year IT security roadmap.
We’re always suffering budget constraints because Toyota is an organisation that builds and sells cars so IT is a supporting function. We’re always justifying how we can use IT to improve the organisation. However, our IT staff numbers have remained stable at 100 for the past two years.
Lastly, we can’t do everything for everybody. What the business needs to do is far outweighed by our ability and capacity to do it.
What are some of the major projects you’ve been working on?
The SAP upgrade project is our first priority but we’ve also got quite a bit of infrastructure upgrading to do now that projects such as the dealers IP network program has been completed.
We’re currently doing an upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 and a Windows Server consolidation.
What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?
An aging workforce and attracting talent. We have to pay at levels relative to the rest of the organisation so we struggle to attract new talent.
Governance around software as a service [SaaS]. We’ve got a paper going to an IT review committee in May to put some policies in place for the IT department to manage SaaS ourselves.
The last one is around keeping pace with new technology. We’ve delayed some infrastructure [upgrade] decisions in order to focus on business projects designed to support the company. Technology has changed quite significantly in that time but we’re now in a position where we can focus on [IT] upgrades.
What is your favourite gadget?
My iPad. It’s a step forward and much faster to boot up than a laptop.
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