The five minute CIO: Finian Nally, E-MIT Solutions

20 Mar 2015

“Fundamentally all aspects of the IT budget need to enable the business,” said Finian Nally, technical director at E-MIT Solutions.

E-MIT Solutions has been the lead partner supporting the SME IT Capability Maturity Framework (SME IT-CMF) at the Innovation and Value Institute (IVI) Maynooth University.

This is a collaboration between the Innovation Technology Centre at Maynooth University and industry, which is seeking to build an IT framework for Irish businesses based on a maturity model approach.

In December Santry-headquartered E-MIT revealed a €650,000 investment plan that will see it hire 10 new peple to focus on its IT consultancy, IT security, cloud and infrastructure management.

Can you outline the breadth and scope of the technology roll-out across your organisation and what improvements it will bring to the company?

E-MIT Solutions is a leading technology solutions provider to the SME sector. We provide IT solutions and IT management services for companies ranging in size from 10 – 300 staff. Given this remit, leading edge technology is at the centre of everything we do. We operate multiple systems including CRM, call logging, network monitoring and custom managed service solutions. All of these give us a 360 degree view of our business to allow us to deliver our business in a much more proactive rather than reactive manor.

What are the main points of your company’s IT strategy?

For us our IT strategy is centred on delivering the best service and solutions to our clients. This means constant innovation in conjunction with training of staff and investment in technology. We deliver this strategy through four pillars: IT Security, IT Infrastructure, Cloud Computing and IT Consulting. This four pillar strategy allows us to quickly focus in on helping our clients leverage technology in their businesses. It ensures we are constantly focused on key areas.

Can you give a snapshot of how extensive your IT infrastructure is?

Our current infrastructure is a mix of onsite equipment, mobile devices, some cloud servers and a large range of SaaS applications and portals to manage all aspects of our customers IT infrastructure. Much of our internal IT systems are built on Microsoft technologies but we also have various centralised portals for internal staff and for clients to quickly access key information. We have adopted a very flexible model which allows us to work from any location so we are never reliant on the physical office to deliver our core business.

In terms of managing IT budgets, what are your key thoughts on how CIOs/heads of technology should achieve their goals?

When we look at IT budgets both internally and for our clients the number one thing we focus on is the business goals and we manage the IT budget with this in mind. Fundamentally all aspects of the IT budget need to enable the business. We’re a firm believer that investing in technology alone is only one part of the puzzle and in considering an IT budget investing in people and training is also a key component. This allows the right people with the right skills to use the technology most effectively. CIOs need to be able to demonstrate the real business benefit of a solution when managing an IT budget.

How complex is the infrastructure, are you taking steps to simplify it?

We’ve managed to simplify our infrastructure over the last number of years with the advent of cloud technologies and ‘software as a service’ solutions. However this brings its own challenges including service reliability, data protection and security. We’re very focused on using best of breed technologies and implementing these effectively so the actual day to day management of the technology does not complicate something that should be simple. Our approach here is to ask if introducing a new technology solution will add real value to what we do

Do you have a large in-house IT team, or do you look to strategically outsource where possible?

As a technology company we look after much of our internal IT systems ourselves. However we always look at who can deliver the best results for us while we focus on our core business goals. When it makes business sense to bring in external expertise we’re very open to this and have done so for some key projects in the past.

What are some of the main responsibilities of your own role, and how much of it is spent on deep technical issues compared to the management and business side?

My role is multifaceted. The way I look at my role is as an innovation leader for our company and clients. At all times I’m trying to keep a couple of steps ahead of the technology curve but the role needs about a 50/50 split between technology and business focus. My time is really split evenly over 4 key areas. Meeting with new and existing clients and building solutions tailored to their needs, working with our technology partners to develop new solutions, overseeing the implementation of projects for our clients and the day to day management of our technical team.

What are the big trends and challenges in your sector, and how do you plan to use IT to address them?

One of the biggest challenges is the pace of change. IT is changing faster than ever and we are seeing products move from a three-year development and release cycle to a six-week release cycle. This poses many challenges but also represents a great opportunity for us and our clients. Mobility and data are two of the biggest factors driving this pace of change right now. Access to data anytime anywhere is now the norm for both us and our clients but the trend to access and use this data more effectively is something we’re starting to see more and more.

What metrics or measurement tools do you use to gauge how well IT is performing?

Data is key to everything we do as a company from client satisfaction to solution delivery time to call resolution time. We get this data from multiple sources including CRM, call logging systems and project management systems. The key for me as Technical Director is to make sense of this data and to quickly identify trends in our performance and take action on the back of this. Naturally we have tools to help us make sense of this data too!

Are there any areas you’ve identified where IT can improve, and what are they?

We’re constantly striving to drive efficiencies and make the technology work for us and not the other way around. In line with this we put a large focus on training and empowering our staff to use the technology in new ways. The time and training investment that needs to complement any aspect of IT cannot be underestimated.

What other projects do you have lined up for the year, and what will they contribute to the business?​

We’re working on a number of projects right now, both internal and client facing solutions. We’ve recently introduced a new CRM solution internally which has delivered greater visibility over our clients. In addition we are getting ready to launch a new cloud solution to the SME market which has been in development over the last number of months. 

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