The Role of the Group CIO

Tuesday, 11 January 2011 15:18 Ayman Abouseif
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The Middle East and maybe more so the Gulf region is familiar with the concept of business groups or conglomerates, mostly very large and highly diversified family businesses operating in anything from manufacturing to tourism and from construction to retail. The examples are many, like Al Ghanim in Kuwait, Al Futtaim in the UAE or Bahwan in Oman.

Historically, group companies tended to operate independently and share nothing but maybe the family name, but the last 10 years or so have seen a shift towards stronger group level management, control and resource sharing especially in the areas of finance, HR and IT. Many such groups now have group level CFOs and CIOs who are truly and fully responsible for their respective areas not only at the group level but also at the operating company level. This shift has been mainly driven by the need to establish better financial reporting and controls, stronger treasury management and bank relationships, more systematic sharing of standards and best practices as well as the desire to lower the cost and improve the efficiency of IT.
Last Updated on Saturday, 07 May 2011 11:48

2010 Year in Review

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 16:44 Ayman Abouseif
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As we welcome 2011 and say good bye to 2010, I wanted to take a look at some of the major IT industry events and developments that took place during the last year.

Mergers and Acquisitions Frenzy

IBM, Oracle and HP continued their respective shopping sprees in 2010 leading Gartner to refer to them as ‘Super Vendors’ and to warn against the impact of this trend on the levels of innovation and competitiveness in the industry. Google has made over 20 acquisitions in 2010, Cisco has somewhat slowed down its acquisition drive while Microsoft appears to have made just one acquisition. On the European side, Atos/Origin is taking over Siemens IT services business. 2011 could be a banner year in terms of IT acquisitions given the large amount of cash accumulated by the major players in IT due to their increased earnings. . The M&A rumor mill has recently revolved around HP-SAP, Oracle-EMC and SAP-RedHat, none of which has materialized yet.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 January 2011 16:52

Social Media in the Enterprise

Sunday, 05 December 2010 20:40 Ayman Abouseif
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Many IT departments feel pressured to deliver Facebook-style collaboration to the enterprise. Yet the number one problem facing CIOs who have already invested in social networking is getting a meaningful level of employee adoption. A recent survey conducted by InformationWeek indicates that only 10% of respondents consider their internal social networking initiatives a great success. Why aren’t employees logging on and contributing to their work social networks?

In most instances social networking in the enterprise has been championed by marketing, in some cases lead by IT, while very few enterprises have taken a cross company coordinated approach to social networking. Perhaps that does not surprise may people because the usage of social media is quickly becoming part of the marketing portfolio of many progressive marketing departments. Social media has added a new low cost dimension to customer communications but we must understand that internal enterprise collaboration may or may not follow the same routes as customer collaboration.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 May 2011 11:49

The Rise and the Demise of Management

Sunday, 21 November 2010 21:28 Ayman Abouseif
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In the relatively simple world of the eighteenth century individuals contracted directly and separately with each other to perform services or to deliver goods. That was sufficient to ensure economic progress then. Decades later, the industrial revolution rendered that model useless and a new means of organizing people and allocating resources for more complicated tasks was needed. This lead to the creation of the managed corporation which has served its purpose in the 20th century, it organized work, created jobs and contributed to the birth of the middle class. Business guru Peter Drucker considered management "the most important innovation of the 20th century."
An inevitable side effect of management is bureaucracy. Towards the end of the 20th century it became obvious to many enlightened business leaders and gurus that bureaucracy is the corporation’s biggest enemy. We have all read stories about how successful leaders fought bureaucracy in a desperate effort to make the elephant dance again, so in a sense the enlightened elite have become enemies of the established corporate norms, they broke the hierarchies, encourages informal communications and created cross functional teams. But as we all know bureaucracies are by definition resistant to change.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 May 2011 11:59

Technology Brands Shine in 2010

Monday, 04 October 2010 07:57 Ayman Abouseif
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Millward Brown Optimor has recently released its annual Top 100 Most Valuable Brands report for 2010. The ranking of the world’s best known brands has put smiles on the faces of many technology executives and marketers. Why? Because 4 of the top 5 places were occupied by technology brands, well ahead of very strong consumer brands like BMW, Pepsi, McDonald’s and Manchester United! According to the report, the top 5 brands are Google, IBM, Apple and Microsoft followed by CocaCola.

Millward Brown Optimor applies an economic use approach to brand valuation, using a methodology similar to that employed by analysts and accountants. The brand value published is based on the intrinsic value of the brand – derived from its ability to generate demand. The dollar value of each brand in the ranking is the sum of all future earnings that a brand is forecast to generate, discounted to a present-day value.


Datacenter Challenges

Tuesday, 14 December 2010 09:14 Ayman Abouseif
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The ever increasing requirements to deploy new applications and to support larger numbers of users coupled with legacy applications that do not share resources running on energy-hungry outdated servers that are sized to handle peak workload have lead many IT organizations to face a space, power, and cooling crunch and have pushed datacenters to their limits of space and energy consumption. Many datacenters built to last for 10 to 15 years have reached a premature end of life because they were not meant to support the growth that has actually taken place. The lack of flexibility caused by populating datacenters with what is now outdated, inefficient hardware has also begun to affect business agility.

Inefficiency can be difficult to address because facilities organizations don’t always understand—or even believe in—the ever-increasing power requirements of IT organizations. Conversely, IT organizations typically don’t understand the time and expense required to implement power and cooling infrastructure to support higher-density datacenters.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 May 2011 11:58

Why CIOs Need Selling Skills

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 08:32 Ayman Abouseif
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Surly CIOs need to be able to sell themselves, their work and their visions effectively in order to reach the heights of the C-Suite. Great CIOs must be great communicators, capable of delivering a compelling presentation or a memorable speech, and inspiring others to follow them.

But that is not enough; CIOs need to mimic sales people in spending time and energy learning how their products and services work, how will customers use them and how are they positioned against competition. Sales people are also taught (and told) to listen to their customers’ issues, pains and aspirations in order to be able to successfully position their products as solutions.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 May 2011 11:50

ERP: Single Instance or Hub and Spoke?

Monday, 01 November 2010 18:37 Ayman Abouseif
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This question would have been very easy to answer some fifteen years ago. With rather limited wide area networking bandwidth and server scalability, the hub and spoke ERP deployment model was a no brainer, in fact it was the only choice. Multinational companies with global ERP deployments either allowed their spoke subsidiaries to use a lighter weight ERP package or forced them to deploy the say type of ERP used at the hub.

Some years later, as the internet became faster and more reliable, ERP systems acquired multi currency and multi organizational capabilities, and server scalability became less of an issue, Oracle spearheaded the single instance ERP deployment mode. Some may still remember how Oracle replaced its fifty odd ERP installations around the world with one single instance. This was part of Oracle’s highly publicized one billion dollar saving story.


Last Updated on Saturday, 07 May 2011 11:59

On The Board or Just On Board

Thursday, 12 August 2010 11:10 Ayman Abouseif
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IT people are those who exploit technology to enable the business to become more efficient, more cost effective and better equipped to make informed decisions. CIO is a job title commonly given to the most senior executive in an enterprise responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support enterprise goals. The CIO typically reports to the chief executive officer, chief operations officer or chief financial officer.

In 2007 a survey amongst CIOs by CIO magazine in the UK discovered that their top 10 concerns were: people leadership

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