Part of the process

CIOs are facing an uphill struggle. More and more demands are being made of IT departments. Budgets are ever-tightening. Duncan MacRae visited CA's technology briefing to find out how the region's IT managers can keep in control and really prove their worth.

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By  Duncan MacRae Published  April 1, 2007

IT organisations in the Middle East are desperately attempting to provide efficient and improved IT services to meet the growing business needs of the country's booming economy.

It is quite apt then that IT management software company, CA, along with Access Communication System (ACS) - its enterprise solution partner in the UAE - recently organised an educational technology briefing aimed at helping CIOs to do just that.

Here, the main focus was on the great importance of IT departments using perplexing business processes, such as COBIT and ValIT (see CIO cheat sheet), which CA says could save IT managers huge amounts of money, improve services, and allow the IT department to become a real value-adding department.

The firm offers IT service management solutions and a portfolio that it says can help corporations translate business demands into IT services and cost-effectively deliver these services. CA also believes that its solutions can offer Middle East companies competitive advantages for overall business growth.

Under the theme of ‘Ensuring IT and Business Goals Speak the Same Language', the briefing covered topics related to transforming IT organisations from cost centres to service-based business partners. It also looked at the practical ways to implement best practices and IT governance frameworks - something which CA says the region's CIOs need to be taking very seriously.

"IT managers are a little bit complacent because a lot of them rely on what I call super technicians," explains Luke Kabamba, regional director at CA.

"Super technicians don't have any security policy and they don't have any security guidelines - they just rely on people, but people have failures. So having policies in place is much, much better than just relying on people."

The benefits of introducing structured frameworks in the IT department cannot be underestimated, according to Kabamba. At the very least, they provide guidelines for IT organisations to improve services or control and manage their IT expenditure, for example.

But how does a tech-minded individuals even begin to get their head around more business-orientated concepts? They just need to know what assets they have at their disposal.

Kabamba explains: "You need to have some type of asset management so that you know what you have and can classify those assets - what are the most important ones and what ones are not so important? Even if they are not important, what are the security policies that should be in place so that all the assets are protected? The very first thing they should do is get a security policy."

"I would advise IT managers to apply a framework such as COBIT to align the IT department with the business and that will bring real value to the company, as opposed to being just, a call centre, for example," Kabamba adds.

This idea is also the key selling point when trying to convince the business to splash some serious cash on the technical department. CEOs need a bit of gentle persuasion and need to be briefed on exactly how making a few changes and investing in IT can benefit the company as a whole.

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