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Zimbabwe companies should leverage on ICT transformation

10 Sep 2018 at 06:47hrs | Views
TODAY'S global economy is powered by technology. From insurance, banking, marketing, news, education, health and communication, it is hard to imagine a modern business that does not rely on technology to serve its customers, transact with partners and enable employees to work effectively and efficiently.

Technology is the prime tool for growing any business and needs someone that gets it right the first time. With these transformations there is now a need for Zimbabwe's boardrooms to have a chief technology officer (CTO) or a chief information officer (CIO) as a board member. Modern day chief executive officers (CEOs) are looking to take direct control of digital transformation and will need to be working directly with their CTOs or CIOs.

Primarily, CTOs or CIOs feel that most companies have under-invested in Information Technology, with many treating it as another business commodity rather than a business enabler.

Attitudes need to evolve, with the CTOs or CIOs driving the change and pushing home the need to invest in the right technology. The role of the CTO's or CIO's job is to advise on how technology can help develop a company and achieve growth and enhance how a company stays ahead of the competition. Their role is to help to set and lead the technology strategy of a company in collaboration with the other top and board executives.

It is the CTO's or CIO's job to show how new technology can help develop an organisation and achieve growth. Furthermore, the CTO or CIO needs to be able to make a case for not just buying the cheapest solutions, but to buy technology that can address a company's needs both now and in the future.

World over progressive companies in all industrial sectors have been focusing on how best to leverage technology transformation and unleash the power of big data and data analytics to enhance their business development and to improve their results. With the addition of CTO/CIO to a company's boards provides an opportunity for executives to fully understand how technology can enhance the performance of their company.

At the speed that Zimbabwean companies are adopting technology, the risk of technology failure has never been more acute. From card cloning, electronic fraud, mobile banking fraud, technological and cyber security mishaps have been responsible for a number of recent business catastrophes such as halting the use of point of sale (POS) systems to causing retailers to lose the trust of thousands of its customers and exposing confidential data to political parties.

Technology infrastructure traditionally has been considered a back-office management function that can effectively be handled by an information technology officer on the senior management team. Yet the board of directors is responsible for overseeing significant risk management, including technology risk.

There is no doubt of the importance of technology for business strategy and operations and this means that all boards in Zimbabwe needs to take a more proactive and informed stance on technology governance. However, the biggest challenge with boards in our country is they are not equipped to ask the right questions or make well-informed assessments about the risks and implications of technology issues.

Historically in Zimbabwe CEOs often come from the ranks of Chartered Accountancy (CA) who are financial directors (FD) or from business unit heads. CTOs or CIOs have not traditionally been the breeding ground for future CEOs.

As a result, board members are biased against including CTOs or CIOs at board level and this has been caused by the fact that board members do not understand their functions and it is a department that they have once managed.

Through the Institute of Directors (IOD), it has to be compulsory for Zimbabwean companies to have a certain number of qualified technology experts on audit committees to oversee and understand the company's processes.

Given the gravity of technology for the continued success of most businesses some more progressive boards in the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe already have technology committees to carry out this role.  

Engineer Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi chairman of the ICT of Zimbabwe Institution Engineers and a member of Institute of Directors (IOD)

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