World’s most powerful CIOs create a master’s degree for IT

2 Jun 2010

A quiet university campus in a bustling Irish town had the honour of being host to the CIOs of the world’s most powerful companies who between them have created a new master’s qualification to empower CIOs in the midst of an explosion in technology for business.

There are few businesses on the planet that can run without technology at a time of economic recovery and foreseeable slow growth economies. There are few business models on the planet that will survive the test of time without catering for the mobility and broadband revolution as consumers go online first and buy physically later. There are few organisations that will function if IT managers and CIOs can’t anticipate and work alongside business managers who need technology to grow their businesses.

The IT-CMF qualification, born in the Innovation Value Insitute which is based on the campus at NUI Maynooth, is the culmination of 60,000 man-hours and US$10m of investment by the CIOs of blue chip companies like Chevron, Microsoft, Intel, Deutsche Post and even our own Beaumont Hospital.

The Innovation Value Institute, headquartered at NUI Maynooth, employs 120 practitioners and researchers from 40 global member companies divided into 14 working groups to develop and help professionals qualify for the IT-CMF qualifications, which are divided into professional diplomas and master qualifications.

The aim is to make these qualifications akin to the MBA qualifications in the business world, only for IT professionals and CIOs who can manage resources and influence business value to make their companies agile and ready for any business challenge.

The European Conference of the IVI heard today that the IT-CMF version 1.0 is now fully operational for companies to assess their IT management maturity, leading to significant savings and efficiencies.

Data from latest industry analysis of 150 IT-CMF assessments across 80 leading Fortune 500 companies shows that the average maturity levels for all companies in all 36 Critical Processes is quite low at around 2.1 out of a possible 5. The highest scores are in the high-tech sector, at an average level of 2.5, while the pharmaceutical sector scored lowest at an average 1.9. Financial services scored 2.2, utilities averaged 2.0, while other companies and organisations scored an average of 2.1.

Commenting on the study, Ralf Dreischmeier, IVI director, partner and managing director of The Boston Consulting Group said that when companies initially self-assessed according to IVI high-level frameworks their own scores averaged around 3.0.

“There is something of a gap between organisations’ own sense of their maturity and the reality. The IT-CMF identifies these gaps and lays out a road-map for capability improvement. What we have also found, interestingly, is that CIOs often rate their maturity levels a full point higher on the scale than IT leaders further down their IT organisation”.

IVI also announced the establishment of an international Master’s degree and professional diploma courses, tailored for CIOs and senior IT executives to align IT with business strategy, improve business performance and ensure the CIO’s position at the boardroom table. IVI has already trained over 300 CIOs and senior IT executives from more than 20 countries, over the past three years.

Initiated as a joint venture between Intel, NUI Maynooth and The Boston Consulting Group, IVI now has over 55 blue-chip patron members engaged on its development, including Ernst & Young, Microsoft and BP as well as new members Cisco and the US Air Force. Companies with which it has recently engaged include Deutsche Post, State Street, SAP and one of Ireland’s largest public sector institutions, Beaumont Hospital. IVI was named a Centre of Excellence by the Irish Government in 2009.

Among the results outlined at the Conference were:

  • Chevron announced it had adopted the IT-CMF as unifying framework across all of its global IT operations, from exploration to distribution and sales.
  • IVI also announced that the world’s leading oil and gas companies are using the IT-CMF in an integrated benchmarking study covering their entire enterprise IT. The IT-CMF assessment is being carried out by IVI steering patron The Boston Consulting Group
  • The establishment of IVI accredited professional qualifications through NUI Maynooth in Europe and Bentley University in the US, providing senior management qualifications to CIOs. These include an MBA-style Masters in IT for Business Value degree programme on the business alignment of IT investments and a range of Professional Diplomas for executives to improve their own organisation’s IT investment decisions.
  • Within the IT-CMF assessments, there is a wide dispersion of maturity in IT investment management, with a low overall average score of 2.4, but leading organisations prioritising this area and demonstrating the highest maturity scores yet seen (at 4.1). IVI assessments also reveal key skills and capability gaps preventing the realisation of business value from IT:

– Architects with deep technical skills but lacking the business analysis and communication skills to make a compelling case for the architecture simplification that would bring down IT costs.

– High maturity around IT investment approval being undermined by weak tracking of benefits delivery.

Fortune 500 and public sector organisations

Speaking at the conference IVI founder and Intel global director of IT Innovation Professor Martin Curley said the IT-CMF was now fully mature and its application and potential was being better understood by industry.

“The financial turmoil of the past 18 months has underlined the pressing need for the IT function of an organisation to be able to account for itself. No-one can justify large costs without an idea of return. While IT is obviously vital to the functioning of a modern organisation, through IT-CMF we can now help companies quantify the contribution it makes in real cash terms, and better plan to identify savings and Return on Investment. This works equally well for Fortune 500 companies as well as for public sector organisations”, he said.

NUI Maynooth President, Professor John Hughes said the introduction of IT-focused postgraduate business qualifications would greatly empower the role of the CIO.

“We can now offer organisations international qualifications, from professional diplomas to Masters in IT Management, in this nascent area of IT accountability.  This is extremely exciting for CIOs as it will provide them with specific postgraduate managerial training, focused on their roles and skill sets to allow them take their place at the boardroom table. The delivery of these programmes, on-line and through NUI Maynooth and Bentley University (Boston MA, USA), will be unique to the market. Over the coming months we anticipate rolling these courses out to 20 universities worldwide.”

Commenting on the collaborative work of the leading energy companies, Andrew Agerbak, Chair of the IVI management team and Principal at The Boston Consulting Group said IVI firmly believed business competitors could share and learn in solving common IT challenges.

“IVI has been constructed as an international open forum learning consortium. To date, that learning has been largely achieved across industry sectors, but this collaboration, amongst a number of leading companies within the oil and gas sector demonstrates  a particularly powerful application of the IT-CMF.

“The value of the IT-CMF is dramatically increased when companies of this scale, with very particular but similar IT challenges benchmark with each other and pool their learnings to recognise and drive IT value”, he added.

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