25 Q&As: Dodging the silver bullets

As part of Computerworld's silver anniversary celebrations 25 IT managers recall the ups and downs of their careers. Here, David Braga, VP and head of investor services technology, PJ Morgan Investor Services, Australia shares his experiences with Helen Han.

Q: What IT technologies have brought the most significant benefits?

The Internet. The Internet has both levelled the playing field and raised everyone’s expectations. In our business, gone are the days of delivering hard-copy, month-end reports weeks after month-end. No matter where you are with Internet maturity, the Internet is driving client expectations.

Q: What would you put on a wishlist for IT vendor performance?

I expect my vendors to treat me the same way I treat my clients: don’t take my business for granted and please listen to what is really going on.

They should understand: what is driving my business?; what am I trying to achieve?; why?; and what constraints do I have?

Q: What is the biggest challenge facing IT managers now?

Ensure that your technology delivery is aligned to creating business value and gels to the overall business strategy. Showing IT value to a business is still a relatively imprecise art. Some business managers have a more detailed understanding of the cost drivers and some technology delivery is easier to align to explicit business value. Doing this well is significant to the perceived overall success of an IT manager and the team.

Q: What has been the most disappointing thing during your IT career?

Silver Bullet Syndrome. As an industry, IT seems to love a fad. Whether it’s CASE tools, Object-Oriented programming, 4GLs, the Internet and Java, outsourcing ... we have a tendency to portray the idea that the solution to IT is now at hand. But if you look back over a period of time, the relative cost-to-delivery-benefit doesn’t change significantly as some of these fads come and go.

Q: What would you tell someone entering IT now?

IT is more than just the tools and the technology. Don’t get hung up about the language, the operating system, the middleware or the database platform. Whilst these are important, they get a disproportionate amount of attention to their real importance. Being successful in IT also requires having a good team and the ability to deliver.

Keeping this in balance — the right technology, with a good team which is able to consistently deliver change — will help you be successful for a long time to come. Take one of these away and you will be fighting a lot of fires!

Fast facts: Head office: New York, US. Employees: 570 in Australia, 6000 worldwide. IT users: 570 in Australia. IT budget: Globally around $US300 million. Key vendor applications: HiPortfolio (DST), Composer (Infocomp), Max (Alphai), Champ (Computershare). Key infrastructure — hardware: IBM X330, X342, X360. operating systems: Windows 2000; Windows 2000 server.

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