Apr 2, 2014
, Colin MacDonald
, Federal CIO
, Government CIO
, Shipra Malhotra
, Steven VanRoekel
, Vivek Kundra
All discussions and debates around CIO career
path and growth prospects more or less come around to transitioning from a
technologist to business leader, with 'CEO' mostly being the penultimate
ambition of success for them. But, we took the liberty of thinking 'big', and I
mean 'really big' on behalf of all our CIO friends. Here's what we decided to
do - think beyond a million or even a billion dollar enterprise ambition and
trade it for a set-up of over a billion people: India.
We took the first step towards building this
exalted ambition or dream - whatever you prefer calling it - with one of my
older blogs: 'Mr. CIO Would You Like To Take Up This Job?' The blog proposed
the idea of a CIO for India and the core responsibilities such a position would
entail, taking a leaf from the corporate culture. This can, in fact, mark one
of the first significant steps in the direction of running the country
professionally, and to bring about greater transparency and accountability in
the government's operations.
Sounds challenging, yet exciting? But, there
aren't too many who can, perhaps, live up to the thrill of running the IT
lifeline for a country, and that too as diversified as India. Just for the sake
of an example, can you imagine yourself planning, implementing and managing an
ERP system equivalent for India? I can already see some of you freezing at the
very idea. Well, let me warn you - it's no job for the faint hearted.
In the previous blog, Manish Bahl, Country
Manager, Forrester had outlined some minimal qualifying requirements for the
CIO of India: CIOs with proven leadership experience, bringing in best
practices, business-IT alignment understanding, and a knack for ROI and
measurable impact. Taking these bare minimum qualifiers as the starting point,
we went about the task of short listing CIOs that we feel could fit the bill of
leading IT for the country and could be in contention for this job. While quite
a decent number of Indian CIOs qualified and made the cut, we realized that it
would take only a certain breed of CIOs to survive and successfully fulfil the
responsibilities expected of the role.
Let me give you an insight into the KRAs of
some of the most notable government CIOs globally for a better understanding of
why the CIO of India contenders has to be a really niche and exclusive club
that can accommodate only the best of the best. And, we're not being prudish
As per the website of New Zealand
government's ICT department, Colin MacDonald, the
Government CIO is expected to "provide advice on the strategic direction for
government use of ICT to ministers, chief executives, senior stakeholders,
central agencies and state sector agencies" while aiming for lower cost and
higher quality public services. If that doesn't sound too bad, then digest
this: the government has charged the GCIO with leading government ICT to
provide system-wide assurance, enable integrated digital service delivery, and
deliver sustainable business savings of $100 million per year by 2017.
Take a peek into the life of Steven
VanRoekel, US Chief Information Officer at Executive Office of the President.
He is the second person to hold the title of Federal CIO after taking over from
Vivek Kundra - the first Federal CIO for U.S. - in 2011. He sits on a treasure
trove of data in a country extremely paranoid about individual privacy and
national security, despite the recent spilling of beans around the country's
secret NSA Prism programme.
A White House statement issued at the time of
Kundra's appointment gives a clear indication of what is expected of the role.
This was the first time that U.S. was creating the role of a government CIO.
The profile responsibilities, as per the statement, go as: "The Federal Chief
Information Officer directs the policy and strategic planning of federal IT
investments and is responsible for oversight of federal technology
spending. The Federal CIO establishes
and oversees enterprise architecture to ensure system interoperability and information
sharing and ensure information security and privacy across the federal
government. The CIO will also work
closely with the CTO to advance the President's technology agenda."
Further, the portfolio includes government IT
policy and procurement and not just modernization. The Federal CIO is tasked
with using technology to improve performance and lowering the cost of
government operations. "I have directed him to work to ensure that we are using
the spirit of American innovation and the power of technology to improve
performance and lower the cost of government operations. As CIO, he will play a
key role in making sure our government is running in the most secure, open, and
efficient way possible," came the statement from President Obama himself on
Kundra's appointment. VanRoekel not only inherited a USD 80 billion IT
portfolio to lead when he took over from Kundra in 2011, but also the legacy of
gigantic expectations. I don't think I need to stress enough to showcase the
pressure when the country's President has these expectations of you, as opposed
to your company's CEO.
The prospect of creating an over-arching
technology architecture for a country as diverse as India, integrating and
standardizing systems and processes across disparate government departments
nationally, creating transparency without compromising on national security,
replicating the pace of innovation in the private sector to the government, can
be quite daunting for the best of the CIOs. If that doesn't sound daunting
enough try doing that in an environment of bureaucratic culture and huge fiscal
deficits in the midst of looming global economic issues.
That's why, I still insist, it will take the
best of the best CIOs in the country to become the CIO of India.
objective to scout for and showcase some of the CIOs that can make the cut, we
bring to you the 'CIO of India' series, which will essentially feature blogs
from some of these potential CIOs of India, sharing their vision, mission and
strategy as the country's CIO, showcasing what they will bring to the table,
and trying to convince you why they are an ideal candidate for the job.
Do look out for this space for the first of
the blogs in this series from one of the most renowned CIOs in the corporate
world. And, if you think you fit the bill, we would definitely want to hear
your plans and strategy for the country's IT set-up.