"Global CIO is part of a larger movement"

by Sohini Bagchi    Nov 29, 2012

Kamal Sharma Group CIO MindlanceIndian CIOs are increasingly becoming a part of the global economy. As enterprises are expanding into newer territories, going for greater collaboration with global counterparts and acquiring global clients with confidence, CIOs are also moving into a new global arena – with newer challenges and opportunities. In an exclusive interaction with Sohini Bagchi of CXOtoday, Kamal Sharma, Group CIO and ITIM SBU Head at Mindlance elucidates what it takes to be a global CIO and how he/she can effectively operate in the global economy.

Who is a global CIO and what is the significance of having a global CIO for your business?
Today businesses operate in a global economy. Even a decade back, the IT manager or the CIO was generally viewed as a technician, running and managing computer and other machines. This trend is completely changing over the last couple of years, with the change in the enterprise landscape. With Indian businesses expanding into global territories and collaborating with business partners and clients, across the world, technology is also facilitating a larger chunk of business. As a result the CIO’s role has become more strategic, at the board level. He is expected to deliver unprecedented levels of strategic insight, lead conversations with the company’s board of directors on growth, strategy and agility and bring about business value to get a foothold into the global market. In other words, the global CIO is expected to be part of a larger movement and is an imperative for enterprises who wish to survive, grow and innovate in a global economy.

What are your responsibilities as a Global CIO at Mindlance? What are the changes you would like to bring to the organization?
As a ‘global’ CIO, the key responsibilities include functioning on a dynamic global market, adapting to the business needs, bring about business innovation and have an eye for detail, where there is opportunity for expansion and profitability. I belong to the new economy and aim at constantly driving innovation that brings value to business. The role of the global CIO is an exciting one. I joined Mindlance 3 years ago. Those days, the company relied solely on legacy systems and processes. The key responsibility was to make the organisation run on fully automated system so that be transformed into an international SI, with greater global reach and better customer experience. Putting the company on a global platform on the ground of technology innovation was challenging but turned out to be a huge success. At Mindlance, we are currently bullish about collaboration and are riding the social technology wave where we see the potential value in improving collaboration and communication within and across enterprises.

What are the various challenges facing Global CIOs?
One major challenge for a global CIO is how effectively he can operate in a multicultural business scenario. When you expand into a new geography to acquire new clients or interact with global business executives, it is important to master the ability to deal with people of different nationalities and cultures effectively. Learning newer culture in a global economy can often be challenging, though it can be a binding force that eases the business process without causing too much friction.

In a global role, another key challenge is the IT budget allocation for different geographies and for different groups or verticals of business as is the case with Mindlance that operates in different global markets and has four separate business subsidiaries. The IT budget allocation and technology investment has to be decided according to the trends and conditions of the global and regional economy. Implementation of IT policies and processes as per the compliance and standards across geographies is yet another challenge. It is important to train and educate personnel on the various procedures introduced by the enterprise so that they understand the local policies as well as mentored on how to work in sync with the global policies. Currently, we are using social technologies and platforms for educating our employees to work more efficiently in a global economy.

How important has the role of CIO become in Compliance especially when businesses are functioning in a global economy?
In the current scenario, since a lot of technology is involved in the compliance process, the CIOs role in this regard is becoming increasingly strategic. Since CIO has the indirect ownership of information, many of them own compliance role under CIO office or drive it on their own. CIOs are expected to design the system, process and approach to create a healthy compliance environment. Often time, the course the initial adaption towards compliance creates challenges, effective process and adaption approach can address this. Other important considerations for CIOs include data security breach, information theft, and compliance management failure to name a few. It is essential that the CIO and the enterprise apply a 360 degree approach to compliance and educate all its stakeholders as well as conduct timely reviews. The CIO should also concentrate equally on managing the risk, not just compliance.