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CIO Synergy

February 5, 2015


February 5, 2015
Today I had an opportunity to participate in a CIO leadership session in Calgary with people from all over Southern Alberta. We met in the Hyatt Regency, at an event put on by CIOsynergy Calgary.

Scott Shuster – Moderator

Started with conversation with Antoinette Duffy from Commvault

Scott and Antoinette started the afternoon with a short interview-format presentation. Commvault has one product, one solution, and they do it very well.

Antoinette had a lot of good questions that we need to answer about our data and backup solutions. Is our data structured or unstructured? Is it valuable to our business? Do we know what needs to be backed up? Where should it go? How fast do we need to access it? It’s not just a simple discussion.

CIO Panel
Daron Wong – VP Landmark Cinemas Canada
Darrel Popowich – VP IT H&R Block Canada
Frank Puddu – VP ENMAX
Peter Kehler – CIO SAIT Polytechnic

Frank (ENMAX)
Decided IT wasn’t delivering they way they wanted to, and couldn’t see what was going on within the department. (approx 18 months ago) Eliminated CTO, moved the entire IT folks to CFO. Frank is a “Technology Person” not an “Information Technology Person” Believe they can make better choices as “technology” focused, not IT focused. Frank feels that IT folks he has worked with don’t believe they should follow standard project controls / disciplines.

Darrel Popowich – H&R Block
How do you get business unit managers to take accountability for their successes and failures. Many of his managers ask why they can’t go back to just paper. It takes a lot of time, but it’s critical to talk to teams personally and learn about what they are struggling with, and how he can help.

Peter Kehler – SAIT
Put in first components of their current ERP in 1989. Received over 24,000 applications this past year, which is 5,000 more than last year, and continuing to grow. How do we make sure that our students and staff have the access they need. Like dialtone, they need to access infrastructure, or it’s a non-starter.

Daron Wong – Landmark Cinemas
Technology has really transformed how movies are presented. Went from film to no film. Have a few theatres where they have one projector that can still run film, should the theatre decide to use it. Movie comes in on a hard drive, and are secured with a key. Keys are good for the serial # on the projector, for a particular day. Currently testing satellite download of movie distribution. Too much risk in transmission via Internet. Challenge at Landmark was to put the infrastructure in place to be able to do this, and needed it before business could be supported and grown. It’s a good feeling to be able to say “Yes, we can do that” when the infrastructure is ready to go. Social Media is really important, can boost business. But if someone has a bad experience in their theatre, that spreads quickly too. Customer Service is critical.

Q&A Comments
Question to Frank about removing the role of CTO. Business leaders would get the funding for a project, turn it over to PMO, and then leave it alone. Many projects would fail as leaders would use PMO as a bit of a crutch / shield. Wanted to align accountability.

Darrel – challenges around security. H&R Block has a tonne of data about individuals, and they really wanted to avoid having their face on the front page of the paper as a result of a data breach. Nothing written on paper. Screens never left unlocked when staff leaves the desk. Project the message that the tax preparer values your data and cares to make sure it is secure. No e-mail.

Peter – what are you doing to support everyone’s ability to access infrastructure. Restrictions on use of phones as lots of intellectual property. In some areas, devices are left upon entry. Some technology must be left at the door, on the other side of the “Yellow” line. Nothing comes in, nothing comes out. The number of devices that everyone has is growing. They come with 1, 2, 3 devices, or more. 4,600 students. Bandwidth, access 24/7. Over provision every wireless piece that they can. Security controls to access the wireless, treat it like a donut firewalls around the outside to prevent outside access, but another barrier on the inside to prevent students from getting to things they shouldn’t get to.

Change Management

Daron – change management. It’s challenging, and it’s a pain point. Every major initiative or project, everyone must complete a full scope document, a mini charter, including stakeholders, who is accountable, who is responsible in all areas. Afterwards leadership group must sign off, and then move forward.

Frank – A lot of managers get to where they are, but delaying change.

Darrel – Many IT shops fail because they don’t differentiate between training and making sure it works for people better. Lots of IT projects and contracts have a knowledge transfer clause, but no good way to measure that it happened. Spell out the clause in detail.

Peter – how do we get people to see the value in the change? People don’t like change, especially if they see it as more work for them. Successful projects get people involved in the whole process.

Peter – we really want people to want to come to IT and ask questions, and ask for involvement, and help avoid the crazy things. But it is important that IT is so approachable and so loved that people wouldn’t think about going anywhere different.

Daron – went through every single process, assigned a business owner, accountability, and who should be involved. Very painstaking process, but very important.

Frank – what about admin rights?

Daron – Very limited, when he arrived, almost everyone had admin rights, and used the same passwords for the previous 10 years. All been taken away, unless a valid case could be made. However main working ID was not an admin account. Had a secondary account with admin rights….

Darrel – remember, if you take away admin rights, better make sure they can do everything that they need to.

Frank – People also don’t like change because they don’t understand technology….

Frank – Looking at lots of “as a service” offerings. Have moved lots of “stuff” to the cloud. Should the local utility be in the data centre business? Should they be in 90’s cycle of maintenance and upgrade cycle?

Peter – Challenges in acquiring staff. Many graduates from SAIT, but they are starting at an entry level, so their fresh grads aren’t usually the types that they need the most. As ERP vendor staff changes, so do our staff change. Aren’t able to pay the higher salaries, or bonus structures that oil and gas have, but have some pretty stable employment, other benefits. Also try to find ways to help their staff to work without having to come in to SAIT.

Daron – Historically was able to hire people, and they stayed with you until they retired. However recently have found that different out here. Training and developing people, and then they move on. Free movies to their staff….

Darrel – Spend way to much time (80%) on maintenance, and less than 20% in new initiatives.

Frank – Bundle everything together, it’s hard to pull out the data on where you are spending time. Really need to differentiate it all in order to make decisions.

Peter – everyone wants the new shiny object, but forget that we still have to support the existing technology. So the new is an add.

Overall this was an extremely interesting panel discussion, especially with the breadth of industries represented and the calibre of the panelists. Thank you CIO Synergy for putting this on!



One Comment
  1. Gaurav Patel permalink

    Nice Synopsis!

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