EU tasks IVI with boosting CIO and IT professionalism

13 Jan 2011

As Europe gets ready to spend €600bn on ICT in 2011, the Innovation Value Institute (IVI) at NUI Maynooth has been given a ground-breaking role by the European Union to drive professionalism among CIOs and IT workers in the region.

The European Commission has awarded IVI with a contract to conduct a ground-breaking research project which will strengthen and further professionalise the vital role of the CIO and ICT professionals in European business, public sector and academic organisations.

With worldwide annual spend on ICT estimated at US$1.6trn, leading companies in every business sector will come to rely on the IT-CMF set of practices, developed at the IVI in NUI Maynooth.

The IVI was established in 2006 and is now an international open-forum learning consortium that has attracted more than 40 blue-chip members including Microsoft, Chevron, BP, Ernst & Young, SAP and Axa. These include our own ESB and Beaumont Hospital. The IT-CMF qualification is expected to be used by two-thirds of all Fortune 500 companies within two years. So far, the IVI has trained more than 300 CIOs from the world’s biggest companies.

The IVI now employs 120 practitioners and researchers from 40 global member companies, divided into 14 working groups, to develop and help professionals qualify for the ITCMF qualifications, which are divided into professional diplomas and master’s qualifications.

During 2011, IVI researchers will conduct in-depth interviews with more than 100 leading CIOs, ICT professionals and academics across Europe and develop:

  • A European-wide framework for ICT professionalism, with the goal of enhancing ICT practices and mobility for qualified professionals across Europe.
  • A European training programme for ICT managers to support and drive innovation and competitive advantage in the organisations they serve.

Structural shift in Europe’s economy

Director of Intel Labs Europe, IVI director, and NUI Maynooth academic Prof Martin Curley, said the appointment reflected the structural shift in the European Union from a heavy industry-based economy to a knowledge-based economy and an awareness of the vital role ICT plays in driving modern business.

“However, in many organisations the IT department is still a niche player – a provider of support services rather than a boardroom decision maker. This is a global problem and is unsustainable for successful modern organisations. ICT needs to prove itself, and be recognised as a strategic driver of growth rather than a cost centre. This is the challenge the European Commission has recognised and IVI is very pleased to be part of its response,” he said.

This is the first significant external contract for IVI, which won the contract following a competitive bid process. It will carry out its work in conjunction with CEPIS (Council of European Professional Informatics Societies) and has a full-time team of four researchers dedicated to the project.

André Richier from the EC Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General said the development of the ICT profession was one of the most important challenges facing modern business and administration.

“In Europe, we see this as a key enabler of economic growth, innovation and competitiveness. The development of a common framework for understanding, communicating and measuring the pivotal role played by ICT and ICT professionals is a significant priority of the European e-Skills agenda.”

Europe’s ICT skills challenge

Discussing the challenge for the European Commission, IVI head of research and development, Dr Stephen McLaughlin, said, “In Europe as elsewhere there is a much debate about maturing ICT as a profession.

“Analysis has shown that there will be a 13pc shortage of people with the appropriate ICT skills in the workforce by 2015 alone. This is at a time when ICT is at the heart of European policy through the Lisbon Agenda and more recently the EU2020 and Digital Agenda initiatives. As a result, ICT is required to take a greater role in strategically driving business and public sector organisations so it is a huge challenge.

“We know one of the barriers to entry into ICT is the lack of an obvious career structure – there is no common language to describe professional skills and competences, there is no basis for measuring these skills and no common framework to adequately assuring them or having them independently recognised.

“Elsewhere in the business world, you have the MBA and an international language which means those professionals are recognised, measured and highly mobile as a result. To keep up, ICT needs to develop.

“IVI is ideally placed to assist here as our work in the IT-CMF has illustrated our ability to provide a common framework and language for ICT maturity issues affecting blue-chip companies in every sector,” McLaughlin added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years