Successful IT executives have the right mix of technical skills, business nous and the ability to innovate.
Innovation is important for differentiation in a highly competitive market, according to Dr Ali Al-Tarafi, managing director of BEA A/NZ,
Speaking at a CIO Magazine roundtable on innovation, Tarafi said today's CIO plays an important advisory role to business and this includes embracing innovation.
"If you don't look to see where innovation fits then you are on the back foot," he said.
Sponsored by BEA, the event was attended by more than a dozen senior IT executives and provided a forum for lively debate about emerging market trends.
For example, local research shows Australian organizations have increased spending on innovation by a whopping 30 per cent in the last 12 months.
However, companies have struggled to deliver tangible results on their investment.
This is because organizations cannot simply buy innovation.
It requires strong leadership, the right business environment and a holistic approach.
One participant, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) general manager of risk systems, Andrew Matuszczak, said innovation is embedded in all parts of the bank as it is one of its core values.
Intercontinental Hotel IT manager, Ben Wrigley, pointed out that an innovation strategy must have commercial value.
"But sometimes it is a challenge creating a culture of innovation and trying to get tech staff to have a customer focus," Wrigley said.
"It is a difficult conversation to have when the first thing IT wants to know is if it is .Net or Java."
One emerging trend that has captured the imagination of IT professionals is Web 2.0.
It has proven to be an invaluable tool for recruiting staff at a time when Australia's skills shortage is worsening.
Another topic that ignited plenty of lively debate was green IT initiatives. Most of the executives in attendance had undertaken a green initiative in the last 12 months.
Springboard Research estimates that over AUD$837 million per year is spent on powering computers in Australia with the majority of this spend wasted on systems that are in idle mode.
One CIO had centralized printing and dumped a total of 50 printers while another saved millions of dollars on air conditioning costs.