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  Sherief Younis Published  April 8, 2007

|~|Kabamba,-200.gif|~|Kabamaba: Businesses need some type of asset management.|~|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.”
||**|||~|shahzad-200.gif|~|Sheikh: "We are working with CA to help customers understand how business processes can be beneficial."|~|“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.
Kabamba refers to one company he visited in a shopping mall, where the IT department was located directly above a food court.

“Imagine if there had been a fire,” he explains. “The IT department would have gone up in flames. The most critical part of that company would have been wiped out and without that there would be no company.

“After we spoke to them about the incident they decided not just to move the IT department to another location within the shopping centre – they relocated it to the outskirts of the city. It might have taken some time and money to do, but the decision has been vindicated and the IT assets are much safer. It was a crucial move.”

Convincing a company to spend a large sum of money on something like this is not always a straightforward task though. CA accepts that it, along with other major vendors, must shoulder a great deal of the burden when it comes to educating and encouraging CEOs to dip their hands into the business’s pockets. Having said that, Kabamba feels IT managers have a major part to play in the process.

“The best way to convince the organisation to spend more money on IT is for CIOs to expose the likelihood of any negative events, just like the danger of fire in that shopping centre,” Kabamba explains.

“Secondly, these IT managers also need to highlight the positive aspects - what will happen if some security or process measures are taken.

“Just for example, if you work at a bank or some other company that relies heavily on IT. If the IT is not there the bank is not there - you have good business processes in place, you can safeguard the IT assets and, therefore, the company’s existence, Kabamba says.

“You can put this message across to whoever is in charge of the budget and they will sit up and take note,” he adds.
“That is one very easy way to convince people – if there’s no IT there’s no business.”

This was a sentiment reiterated strongly by Shahzad Sheikh, CEO of ACS, who was quick to point out that his company is also attempting to raise awareness of the benefits of business process management.

“We are working closely with CA to help customers understand how business processes can be beneficial to their enterprise and we’re doing our best to help them successfully implement IT service management enhancement projects.

“This technology briefing is a great starting point for our mutual customers who want to improve IT services while reducing risk, cost and making IT a true partner of their businesses.”

Middle Eastern economies have been growing at a rapid pace, which has resulted in increasing pressure on IT requirements for various corporations conducting business worldwide. CA can offer customers in the Middle East monitoring and management solutions for enterprises based on international standards and best industry practices.

“Increasing complexities in today’s enterprise IT environment make delivery of IT service time consuming, expensive, and extremely demanding on staff resources.

“Our software helps determine the real cost for each IT service, and enables businesses to plan, forecast and manage the cost of IT demand,” Kabamba concludes.||**||

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