How Businesses Can Gain From Outsourced CIO

by Swaminathan B    Nov 06, 2017


The increasing IT complexity faced by organizations today is forcing them to look for new ways including outsourcing responsibility for some or all of the day-to-day investment decision making. Hence, in recent years, the concept of using an outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO) has gained momentum. Businesses considering such a move can access the expertise and scale needed to get the most out of their investments. Bengaluru based Catalystor claims it helps their organization exploit its true potential as an extended arm of the IT team. Shoaib Ahmed, founder and Chief Catalystor of the Catalystor says that his company helps small and medium organizations with IT implementation from the policy till implementation. In an exclusive interaction with CXO Today, Shoaib explains the role of an outsourced CIO and the value addition they provide. Edited excerpts.

CXO Today: What are the key aspects, where the small and medium organizations lack when it comes to IT? How you, as an outsourced CIO can make a difference in the value-chain?

Shoaib Ahmed: An SME who is on a growth path, needs the support of a robust IT-based system. While most businesses are ready to invest in a good system, they are challenged to find a suitable solution which works for them. They rely heavily on the reference of a peer review to make a purchase decision. While this is very useful and helps the business to get a practical perspective, it does not adequately illustrate the efforts taken by the peer in the implementation of the system.

This lack of understanding often leads to failed implementations or suboptimal adoption of systems.Users of the new system, resist change.Business owners do not have the expertise/ability to work with the users of each department and help either change process / redefine workflows and more.While the software solution providers offer the best service possible, they are handicapped as they remain outside the working system.

An Outsourced CIO, who has a good understanding of the domain and about the capabilities of Technology/systems , works on a project mode to help the business articulate IT requirements, procure the right solution and ensure that people and process support the implementation and adoption of the system.All requirements are prioritized against a business impact, as per the CIO’s analysis who then focuses on quick relief.

 CXOToday: How long you are practicing the model, and please explain the top trends, you notice in small Indian enterprises.

Shoaib Ahmed: I have been practicing this model for the last 8 months, and have had a reasonably good response to the offer. This is a very new concept. Currently, the System integrators play the role of business analysts and advise companies about technology investments and work with them up to the successful implementation. The work on the OCIO is primarily focused on Adoption of Software. He is expected to work with the software which the client is currently using, rather than suggesting any changes. The OCIO works closely with all users to streamline operations and more importantly help them analyze data to gain insights and make data-driven decisions. The OCIO builds trust and transparency within the organization and acts as the catalyst for change.

Indian businesses are keen to adopt Software and believe that it is critical to have a good system to help them grow. They are eager to buy a reliable product and are fed up with the piecemeal solutions that they currently have to suffer with. However, the market is grossly underserved as there are very few good software products, designed for the Indian Market.

CXOToday: As a CIO job getting outsourced, what are the ways you can add value to the organization?

Shoaib Ahmed: An OCIO is like the family doctor he helps with the diagnosis and works at giving immediate relief to the customers’ pain points. While the OCIO is equipped to help the company prioritize the issues basis business impact, he can take an independent decision to suggest process corrections, train and motivate existing staff, and implement existing/open source software since he does not have any vested interest to sell any product or service. Helping build trust and speed of execution of projects.

CXOToday: Many of the things mentioned above can be done by any channel partners appointed by the vendors. How are you differentiating yourself from your competition.

Shoaib Ahmed:  The channel partner engages typically with the customer, up to the implementation stage of an IT project, while the OCIOs work is primarily focused on the adoption of the software.The principal reason ( Source: Standish Chaos report), User acceptance takes time and is done most effectively by an internal champion, working with the users to help make their life simple, save them time, make them look good and create a collaborative culture. The business owner needs the support of the OCIO to make this happen. While every Channel partner can potentially play this role, he is not organised with the commercial framework and does not have the delivery capability to support the OCIO.

CXO Today: Can you compare this concept of outsourced/virtual CIO to other markets than India.

Shoaib Ahmed:   The concept of OCIO is still nascent, at best Channel partners / System Integrators) offer the services of a business analyst to help identify the key requirements and prioritize them.

Software selection is another service which is available ( Software Suggest / Captera) offer this kind of service. However Program managing the change, and working with users for a specific contract period is done by a full-time resource, poached from the SI ( Channel partner ) or left to the IT manager to carry out. OCIO brings all these services together and offers a time-bound transition service to the organisation and this is a unique offering worldwide!

CXOToday: What are the current industries you are working with and please share your experience you have gained from them? 

Shoaib Ahmed: Currently Catalystor is working with a very diverse set of industries. It has placed its consultants (OCIOs) in a Large Education Institute, Healthcare facility, Apparel Manufacturing, and Distribution Company.A couple of retail and distribution clients have used the services of Catalystor.