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CGE Leadership Summit: Why IT needs to change from gatekeeper to shopkeeper
HUMAN RESOURCES

CGE Leadership Summit: Why IT needs to change from gatekeeper to shopkeeper 

“Governance is dead,” Donald Farmer, vice-president of innovation and design for business intelligence and data visualization at software firm Qlik, boldly declared in his keynote presentation during the third annual CGE Leadership Summit yesterday at the Westin Ottawa. Farmer, the main speaker for the event, was among the lineup of thought leaders and practitioners in leadership, innovation and management best practices who discussed strategies and methods such as Lean, Balanced Scorecard, workforce engagement as well as data-based decision making.

 

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Into the future: The digital workplace

While he later admitted to “being provocative” when proclaimed that governance has ceased to exist, Farmer said there is a growing trend towards opening up corporate data and networks in order for even non-IT personnel and users to be able to effectively use them to streamline processes, enhance performance, cut down cost and waste, improve customer service, and boost the bottom line. And it’s a development that is also occurring in the government space.

 “These are exciting times in Canada,” he to IT in Canada. “The new government has expressed commitment to openness. The challenge for the government now is to determine what data it will make available to the public and how can they make is available.”

 It is actually the dilemma of chief information officers (CIOs) in every sector.

 “Traditionally, IT departments played the role of gatekeepers. They presided over what data or services from their domain went out to the users,” Farmer explained. “In this new environment, IT needs to learn to become shopkeepers…curating and presenting best of breed technology, data and services for the users to pick and choose in order to do their work well.”

Traditional IT governance rules have been rapidly easing ever since things such as cloud and mobile technology as well as social media gained greater traction at home and the workplace.

IT is a new reality that IT departments “need to learn to live with,” the business intelligence and data visualization expert said.

 “Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this was when the United States Secret Service had to back down and adjust their mobile communications protocol when it became apparent that then newly elected President Barack Obama was going give up his BlackBerry,” according to Farmer.

In the same vein, in workplaces across the globe governance policies are being altered because people are bringing in their own resources. “If employees don’t like the tools IT provides them, they will bring their own devices.”

Governments around the world have also begun creating open data programs that enable businesses and the public to gain online access to some government-held information.

 Roger Oldman, lead for the digital strategy and transformation practice of FCV Interactive and another speaker at the CGE Summit, discussed how the United Kingdom government opened its data to the public.

 As the former chief digital officer of U.K.’s Ministry of Justice, Oldman took a leading role in the creation of Gov.UK.

 Gov.UK is a public sector Web site that was created to provide a single point of access to government services by replacing individual Web sites if hundreds of government departments and public bodies and redirecting their URLs to Gov.UK.

 The site has won praises and awards for its excellent design and for enabling citizens better access to government data and services and even help firms doing business with the government gain the information they need.

 Oldman defined Gov.UK as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvent government with digital transformation.”

 “IT needs to shift its way of thinking from that of merely controlling access to using access to enable users,” said Oldman. “Access to data has a huge transformational value from making it easier for people cope with everyday chores to helping a business grow.”

 So how can IT departments adapt to this new reality and play the new role of shopkeepers?

 Since access to data is critical to making plans, decisions, policies and implementing projects, Farmer suggests organizations altered the way data is shared to personnel.

 “Information makes conversations possible and conversation provides insights,” he said. “A new attitude towards making data more available and easy to access needs to be pursued.”

This must be done in such a way though that security and privacy are given primary consideration.

 For example, many firms have created the new role of chief data officer which is focused on determining the value of an organization’s data and creating policies around what levels of security access should be placed on certain types of data as well as data openness.

 Organizations also need to work towards improving “data literacy” in the workplace. This means educating personnel even those with no technical background on the value and potential of data and how it can be used strategically.

 IT leaders embarking on this journey have to realize that there will be some hurdles and mistakes along the way.

 In order to gain executive buy-in and even evangelists, Farmer suggested that they pick “well-defined, well-scoped projects and then deliver on it.”

 

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