CIONET visits SIMposium 2016

Last summer Steve Hufford, director of the US based SIM (Society for Information Management) attended CIO CITY to sign the Global Digital Leaders Alliance (GDLA). SIM is the largest Digital Leader community in the US with over 4500 members divided over 39 chapters across the country. SIM invited CIONET in return to attend their annual conference SIMposium. As the responsible person for our International Relations, I had the honor to attend the conference, held in the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, an hour’s drive south of Boston.

SIM’s tagline is ‘Where IT Leaders connect’. It proved to be very true as over 700 SIM members – Senior IT directors and CIOs – attended the conference. SIM has been around since 1969 and that may explain why I felt like I was attending a Sunday school reunion, as lots of members greeted each other as old friends. And these people partied till late at night the day after. The conference started early with a 7am breakfast meeting and an 8 am opening keynote both days. Starting early allowed for longer breaks and networking.

A large part of the conference program was about Leadership. Keynote’s covered topics like ‘Be the leader people want to work for’, ‘The Relationship Driven Leader’ and ‘The future of work’. Furthermore, SIM honored their Regional Leadership Forum (RLF) Graduates, a program designed to help SIM members become a better Digital Leader. To date, over 4000 members have followed the RLF program. Again re-enforcing the SIM tagline.

At the conference Prof. Leon Kappelman, University of North Texas and his team presented the 2016 IT Trends Study ‘Taking the Pulse of IT’. This trends study was first conducted in 1980 and presents the findings based on the responses of 1218 SIM members. The total revenue of these organizations is nearly $5 Trillion or approximately 28% of the 2014 GDP of the United States. The bottom line of the survey shows that senior IT leadership is focusing its attention and resources on being more pragmatic, holistic, and business customer-focused. Furthermore, the IT skills shortage has been a top concern of IT executives the past few years. Interesting to know is that everybody which participates in the survey will get a personal assessment how they compare providing a valuable insight in an individuals performance. CIONET and SIM are discussing a pilot to take IT Trends Study to Europe.

Finally, it was interesting to observe that SIMPosium was not only sponsored by IT vendors as you might expect but also by Pfizer, a large pharmaceutical player and Aetna, a leading US based insurance company. When asked about their motivation is was all about supporting and developing a community of digital leaders.

Attending SIMposium has proven once again that the challenges Digital Leaders face are indeed global, that a community of peers is a strong instrument to discuss one’s own challenges in a trusted environment and that an initiative like the GDLA may proof to find solutions on a global level.

Frits Bussemaker

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