World Economic Forum attribute

Training and education are key to dealing with 'shadow IT', according to the head of information technology at the World Economic Forum - but CIOs must also strive to understand why some departments procure services outside of the IT department.

Malte Godbersen, senior director and head of IT at the Swiss non-profit foundation, told an audience of CFOs and CIOs hosted by the Financial Times that it was an "exciting time for people in technology".

He said: "I used to have to convince people about technology, while now I constantly get call from other directors with technology and I am submerged in ideas about what we can do with social media.

"And for a period I was also frustrated that the private devices of my colleagues were more powerful than the tools we gave them."

In his role at the World Economic Forum for 14 years and with a PhD in natural sciences and an MBA from the University of Geneva, Godbersen faced the same problems as other IT executives, including shadow IT, despite his unique role for an organisation whose remit is "to make the world a better place".

"We need to make sure people know why they should do things a certain way," Godbersen explained.

"We are the World Economic Forum with an important brand to protect; we need to have certain standards.

"We have to train and educate people at our organisation, but we also have to ask why they would go outside of the IT department to get other tools?

"Creating an understanding is key to getting the organisation aligned."

Godbersen also said that the World Economic Forum wanted to be leading edge with technology, but that it was a challenging balancing act.

"I have a risk of failure if I'm too advanced, but also a missed opportunity if I don't try," he explained.

The was, however, a certain period at the organisation when the were not willing to spend on technology, Godbersen said.

"But that changed in 2002 when we got a call from the FBI saying that we were under a DDoS attack and that our website will go down within an hour, and to prevent it would cost one million Swiss francs," he said.

"It did go down but working with Akamai we were able to be up and running again in two hours.

"That's when we realised we cannot get these things wrong. It's good to have a plan for these situations, and you also need the right partners."

Photo by Remy Steinegger courtesy of World Economic Forum