Information | Process | Technology

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We think (perhaps too much) about Organisations, the Functions they perform, the Information needed to execute those functions, and the Technologies used to implement them. We capture some of our thoughts in writing to share them, please choose a particular category from the menu above.

Why hire an Interim CIO?

Graeme Burton, senior reporter at Computing Magazine, interviewed three of the UK's top Interim CIOs and IT Troubleshooters to find out why companies choose to hire an Interim CIO, including Steve Burrows of SBA. 

Read the IT Troubleshooters article in Computing.

Systematic Reduction of IT Support Cost

If you owned 10,000 assets used, and depended upon, by other people, and were responsible for maintaining them, and the cost of maintaining them, how would you go about it?

This is the problem facing most IT leaders, and most seem to come up with the wrong answer.

Read more: Systematic Reduction of IT Support Cost

When did you last have an IT Audit?

Probably never, most organisations have never had an independent assessment of the state of their IT. Given that most organisations rely on IT for their ability to operate this might seem surprising, but many organisations simply don't know what to expect or ask for.

Read more: When did you last have an IT Audit?

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

As published in 'Digital Leaders 2014' IT Strategy Guide by BCS The Chartered Institute for IT as part of a set of 200-word insights from BCS ELITE Committee members.


Where Does All The Money Go?

Steve Burrows <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Vice Chair, BCS ELITE


Almost any CFO will tell you that IT is expensive. Almost any IT Director will tell you that he is under pressure to reduce IT costs.

Read more: Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

IT's Doomsday

As a consultant I am regularly asked to review the IT provision in organisations, its capability, strategy, management etc. Very often the Finance Director is one of the prime movers for bringing me in to perform these reviews with the obvious hope that cost efficiencies may be identified and the IT leader challenged to become more financially responsible. 

I've never seen an IT organisation without scope for improvement, and that includes the IT teams I have run, but at the same time I have always found it necessary to caution the directors of any organisation I review that technology is fallible, people are fallible, and the search for cost efficiencies should never be taken to the extent of threatening service - a doomsday scenario is an unpalatable and melodramatic idea, but it is also a real possibility.

Read more: IT's Doomsday

It’s all in the Meta Data

Meta data has been in the news lately. The NSA’s Prism programme and GCHQ’s Tempora programme have hit the headlines thanks to the revelations of Edward Snowden, and both the US and UK governments have been forced to attempt to reassure their respective publics. Their assurances have all been along the lines of “we’re not reading your emails or listening to your calls, we’re just filtering meta data”. So no harm there then, meta data is harmless, right? Wrong. 

Read more: It’s all in the Meta Data

Some Project Management Tips

A little while back I was chatting with a director of a large business who bemoaned the record of the business in delivering projects successfully - on time, within budget etc. It became obvious that the business's project managers were not very experienced, and if they were going 'by the book' they were probably bound to fail. The reality of projects is that whilst a good project management training course can teach you the rules and processes for a particular project management method (such as PRINCE2), no training course can teach you how to make a project actually work, because project management methods are about process and governance, not people and outcomes.

Read more: Some Project Management Tips

Valuing Data and Information

Our stewardship of “things” - assets of some sort - normally depends on value. We will take better care of a MontBlanc fountain pen than a Bic biro, we pay more attention to the management of large funds than the change in our pockets, and we apply far more rigorous accounting processes to the goods in our warehouses than the items in our stationery cupboard. In determining our approach to stewardship we pay significant attention to value, how then do we value the data and information we hold in our organisations?

Read more: Valuing Data and Information

What Does FATCA Mean for Data and IT?

FATCA (foreign account tax compliance act) is a US law that comes into effect on 1st January 2013. It affects all financial institutions worldwide which manage US investments or have US citizens as clients; for the purposes of FATCA non-US financial institutions are Foreign Financial Institutions (FFIs). FATCA permits the US to apply 30% witholding tax on any payments by US institutions to FFIs who do not cooperate with FATCA, either through non-participation or non-compliance - in short it is in the interests of almost all financial institutions worldwide to register for FACTA participation.

FATCA has enormous legal and technical implications for the data handling processes and IT systems in financial institutions.

Read more: What Does FATCA Mean for Data and IT?

Is Data the new Health & Safety?


For years, decades, business owners have bemoaned the ever-increasing burden of Health & Safety legislation, not necessarily because of the need for workplace safety, but for the bureaucratic mechanisms involved, the supervision / enforcement processes, legal considerations, employee / union relations and so on.

Creeping up on the outside, un-heeded by many directors and businesses, the Data Protection legislation has been getting teeth. In April 2010 the new Information Commissioner secured power to award fines of up to £500,000 for Data Protection breaches. At the time many, perhaps most of us, ignored this development thinking that it would only be for massively extreme cases, such large fines would not be awarded in real life.

Read more: Is Data the new Health & Safety?

The three currencies of business

Why companies should have a Chief Information Officer.
In business there are three currencies; talent, finance and information. How do I come to that? It’s pretty simple, consider the way we work and what we value. The Finance element is obvious, most businesses have a Finance Director or CFO (Chief Finance Officer) whose responsibility encompasses not only accounting, but the management and exploitation of financial resources, whether they are cash, creditors, debtors, leveragable assets, contracts, negotiable documents etc.

Read more: The three currencies of business

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