CIO is a global title and with our sister titles across the planet we bring you a new series of reports on what are the main issues CIOs face and that are being reported in our fellow CIO titles. Compiled by IDG News Service with contributions from Tim Lohman, Australia; Alexandra Heymowska, Sweden; Horst Ellerman, Germany; Kim Nash, U.S.
As the new CIO of Sweden's national train company SJ, Jan Fecko's mission is to improve the information flow within the company – and get the upper hand over the country's bitter winters. Last year, heavy snows caused months of constant delays, and furious passengers couldn't get access to updated information from the company's own website. Fecko's challenge is to expose all the information hidden in SJ's many databases so that it's instantly accessible to employees and customers. He's doing that via a Business Process Mapping system. Fecko is also putting in a new model for IT governance to close the gap between business and IT.
And finally, he is drawing up a new process for "risk caused by weather" scenarios. So next time there is heavy snow, SJ's IT department moves into "risk level 3" – which means more resources allocated to the public website, more detailed, focused information will be displayed to help affected customers.
The CIO for German-based logistics firm DB Schenker, Peter Schumann, recently joined colleagues from the CIO Executive council for a debate on the future role of the CIO. Is it functional, transformative, or strategic? The group agreed that a 30/50/20 rule seems to apply: CIOs spend about 30 percent of their time on functional issues, about 50 percent of the time leading process transformation, and 20 percent of the time working on innovation and strategic moves by their companies. For Schumann, supporting strategy also means engaging with customers and suppliers outside the company – "The other day I visited a potential major customer, to explain our IT solutions in detail," he said. But while that aspect of the job is exciting, it's also time-consuming" "If I had to attend ten of these deals personally, I'd be completely booked."
Despite the difficult retail climate in the U.S, Mattress Giant has managed to increase sales by allowing in-store customers to complete purchases online – and it's also removed a disincentive for salesmen to point customers toward the web site. CIO Steve Williams explained that changing how systems handled data has tripled the number of customers who buy a mattress after trying one out in the store. It leverages a "reservation" feature in the company's ERP system, from Escalate Retail, that was intended for special orders. By giving customers a reservation number for an item they are considering, salesman get commission on the sale if it's completed online. "Our website was taking orders and pumping into the ERP system. We flipped that. We take orders from the ERP system and pump them into the website," Williams said. More than 30 percent of customers who enter Mattress Giant stores now end up buying, generating $7 million in new revenue in each of the past two years. "We were willing to let them leave, which took away the contentiousness," he said.
Anecdotal reports suggest that Australian CIOs are consciously avoiding the public Cloud, but Julian Lamb, head of technology at Australian weight-loss company, Tony Ferguson, can't understand why.
By adopting cloud solutions, Lamb has enabled his business to add some 1600 new retail outlets across the UK and South Africa since April.
"I'm a huge advocate of Cloud and it's of particular benefit to small land medium business as it allows us to access, at a cost competitive rate, services which can be scaled for global enterprises," Lamb said.