Thomas Kiessling is CTO at Austrian online betting and entertainment giant's Bwin. He's also been e-commerce director for travel systems provider Amadeus and involved in the internet as a COO, analyst and network director.
With Bwin transforming to become not only a destination for sports bets and gaming, but also the supplier of online services to other gaming brands, Kiessling is well positioned to debate the merits of software customisation and alignment.
"I've tried so many models," he smiles when asked if he thinks CIOs should demand that the organisation align with the IT systems, rather than systems being re-engineered. "CIOs must understand the DNA of the organisation that you are implementing for." He advises CIOs to analyse whether they are strong within the organisation and have the power and support to be as bold as Adrian Dilworth has been at Vodafone Qatar. The organisational culture also has to be analysed carefully, with the CIO considering whether it is a creative body or a homogenous outfit.
Kiessling is honest enough to admit that in a recent project he tried to introduce production planning processes to an organization where it was not suited, "our DNA was to react to business opportunities in an agile and often ad-hoc manner, the organization was not ready to embrace a more formal production planning and portfolio process."
As to getting organisations to align with major applications sets like Oracle or SAP, he agrees with the overall sentiments of our CIOs. "We introduced SAP last year, there is nothing special about our general ledger," he said of standardised approach he took.
Kiessling is in a luxurious position, Bwin as an online business is built on IT foundations. " It is a core strategy of the company to have IT define the ‘how‘, i.e. the IT architecture, tools, IT processes, etc., however, to have product owners and business at large, to define the ‘what', i.e. developers, testers, and even to some extent architects, and application engineers, within their respective product lines (like sports betting, poker, marketing tools, etc). This means that these IT functions are directly tasked by product owners within projects or release teams (we are running monthly Sprint release cycles). Thus we give as much accountability of and direct access to productive resources, which is very much in line with agile development methodology," he says.
The CIO Debate: Business must align with IT
About this article
This Debate article draws in part on a round-table discussion between UK-based analyst firm MWD Advisors and members of the CIO UK community. If you'd like to participate in the research for our next article, please contact register with CIO UK or join our LinkedIn community.