Daniel Lebeau’s keynote speech at CIO CITY

“When I participate in CIO and IT conferences, I inhabit a different planet. All of the discussions concern the new digital world: big data, mobile, social network, cloud, the new role of CIOs. However, when I am back in the office, the majority of my time is dedicated to the “old digital world”: ERP roll-out, risks and compliance, analytics, budgets, upgrades…

Harmoniously connecting the best of the old digital world with the un-inflated promises of the new digital world is the subject of my keynote, articulated around six parts. I will first portrait the old digital world. I will then describe some challenges of the new digital revolution. In the third part, I will question the co-existence of both worlds: trade-off or a paradox? Next, I will explain why “less is more” and then I will suggest how to simplify IT. In the last part, I will speak about the IT strategic leader and why a long-term vision is so difficult.

1. Portrait of the old digital world

Let me first draw an ugly portrait of the old digital world.

I’m currently in front of the most prestigious European CIO’s and my simple question is « How many applications do you currently run? 100? 500? 1000? 5000?” Few of us know the exact answer but many of us think “Too many”.

In addition to the cost, the management of too many applications is a challenge. Let me illustrate some of the impacts.

First, the master data are not accurate. For example, if I run one hundred HR systems, I still will not know the number of employees. If I run one hundred sales systems, I still will not know my customers. Indeed, complexity and accuracy are not friends.

Second. Imagine that the previous ERP roll-out was not successful and a new ERP is under gestation. Depending on the country or the method of purchase, there are a hundred ways to initiate a shopping card, a hundred ways to plan and a hundred ways to sell. In a complex environment, the business processes are highly fragmented and difficult to optimize.

Third, let me speak of the IT debt. Half of the applications have probably not been upgraded for 5 years or more because of budget challenges or laziness. By deferring these costly upgrades to the next CIO, we create an IT debt which can reach up to two years of operating budget and which increases over time like a snowball.”

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