CIOs light a torch for independence

The revolution has begun and Australian IT executives are right there on the front line leading the charge.

In a packed ballroom at Star City Casino yesterday, senior IT executives celebrated the official launch of the Oceanic (A/NZ) chapter of the CIO Executive Council declaring it was time to take control of their destiny, to advocate and to come together like other professions such as solicitors and doctors.

Creation of the council means local CIOs now have direct access to their peers in a forum free of a political agenda or vendor involvement and can leverage the expertise of other chapters across the globe.

The passion and dedication to the cause was palpable at the launch with the council's executive director Con Colovos confirming 23 members had already joined, and the momentum had begun.

Colovos said the foundations are now in place for Australia's IT profession to set standards and methodologies never before seen in this country. "The body of people here today will lead that legacy," he said.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia IT manager Peter Reynolds summed it up when he said "a problem shared is a problem halved."

"Together we have the opportunity to solve problems and address the issues unique to our profession," Reynolds said, adding that the atmosphere in the room was incredibly positive.

"I can only put that down to the fact that there are no vendors," he quipped.

The founder and general manager of the global CIO Executive Council, Mark Hall, said Australia will provide the blueprint for other chapters in Asia that will come on board in coming months.

Hall said the global council was founded on a simple but enormous concept.

"To leverage our strengths worldwide and to be unbiased, trusted advisors to each other," he said.

Founded in April 2004 the global council, Hall said, was created at a time when the industry had just taken a beating from the dotcom crash.

"Budgets were being slashed and we were being blamed for the downturn which culminated in the book 'Does IT Matter?'," Hall said.

"The time has come to go beyond the consultant and analyst; we have spent enough time and money on them; I have seen the results of working with them diminish over time."

Hall said it was also time to go beyond the conference and roundtable.

"You do get value from the speakers but the real value in these events is meeting other CIOs and [discussing] problems," he said.

"You get a charge from these events but you leave the conference, return to work and deal with the same problems.

"The only difference is that you have half a dozen business cards in your pocket but you have made very little progress."

It is for all these reasons, Hall said, that a global association was necessary.

In a little over a year the global council now has 250 CIOs on board.

One of the council's first initiatives is to develop a graduate certificate, diploma and masters degree that captures the true needs of Australia's IT industry.

Richard Constantine, Swinburne University of Technology CIO, said these programs need to be developed by CIOs, because they know what is required.

When dealing with academic programs, he said, it is no different to dealing with vendors.

"We want to set the agenda, not the other way around," he said.

Karen Bard, Santos CIO, said today IT reacts to business needs.

"We need to be proactive, to position ourselves to anticipate business needs," she said.

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