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Mis Engaging in Cio-Cxo “Conversations That Matter”: an Interview with Peter Keen

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Nowadays, management information systems (MIS) simplify the company’s operating and procedures. It also increased among organizations and provides them a good management of the organization itself. In order to make it a hundred percent efficient and eventually make it collaborate with the firm, a good coordination of this department should be considered. In this article “Engaging in CIO-CxO Conversations that Matter”, Peter Keen, the Chairman of Keen Innovations, is interviewed by Omar El Sawy.

He was asked a few questions about the issues and barriers to performance that they faced within the domain of MIS and what are the potential solutions to get rid of it.

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First of all, I will react in this paper to the answers provided by Peter keen. Later on, I will build an opinion about his ideas and use references to strengthen it. Q1: I have heard you say more than once that CxOs are not interested in “IT. ” Can you explain what you mean by that? The chairman and advisor of Keen Innovations, Peter Keen, clearly answered this question.

He claimed that it is extremely important that CxOs are aware of how important is the presence of information systems within their company and the way it can spread and assimilate relationships between the companies processes. He also states that the chief executive officers of companies do not like technology and information systems. In reality, it’s not that they don’t like technology and information systems, it is just that they don’t like to know what is behind these technologies and all the electronic features and mechanisms that they are made of.

All they care about is the actual added value that these technologies bring to the business and how this technology increases the performance of the company. Peter Keen brought up the case of Facebook, and states that 300 million users exploit Facebook’s platform without really knowing how it actually works. According to Peter Keen, the role of CIOs is as important as any other CxO if it is not even more important.

Since CIOs know perfectly what is going on inside the company, they know how to solve problems efficiently and effectively through information technology. I believe that CIOs should officially be in the committee of decision making within the company since their strategy in terms of making decisions can bring a great result to the company. “All this suggests that the CIO could become the Chief Operations Officer. What is today just ‘keeping the lights on’ will turn tomorrow into ‘keeping the business running’”. Alter,2006) Personally, I see that CxOs and CIOs need each other in an organization. They should put their efforts and work together so that their harmony makes the company’s performance better when it comes to solving inner problems that will for sure enhance high revenues in terms of making profit. Q2: As you look back at the last 30 years, how do you think that the role of the CIO has changed in terms of its focus on the operations mission vis-a- vis business strategy, and what does that suggest for CIO role changes in the future ?

For this question, El Sawy asked Peter Keen how did the role of CIOs change over the last thirty years and how this change would help finding out how the future leaders of IT departments will improve. To efficiently answer his question, Peter Keen talks about the change that the department as a whole knew as time went by. Before, companies invested money in IT without really applying every concept to the firm’s missions and goals. However, now the technical part of the IT department is outsourced. The role of the CIO has changed to become a vital part of a firm.

For instance, one of the tasks that a CIO is responsible of is insourcing and outsourcing which brings competitive advantage to the organization. “Today, the CIO manages IT change – but already, IT is increasingly involved in driving business changes which keep a company ahead of the competition. The CIO can identify what business changes are required to improve performance, and take on accountability for driving end-to-end business process transformation. ” (Alter, 2006) I believe that CIOs should be responsible of more strategic tasks than what is already assigned to them. Being a CIO isn’t a piece of cake.

The Chief Information Officer must have certain skills that not all CxOs have. As Peter Keen said, the role of CIO will gain importance and will be held more attention within time in the future. “For yesterday’s CIOs, and many of today’s as well, it was enough to have two out of three key capabilities – personal leadership, technology leadership and business acumen. Tomorrow’s CIO will need all three. ”(Brumby, 2010) To understand more the role of a CIO, or should I say the transition that a CIO will go through, I will be comparing the role of a CIO today with tomorrow. The following diagram shows these transitions: ource : The evolving role of CIO,IBM,2008 All in all, the role of the “new” CIO should change its “I” which stands for Information, to other efficient “I”s like: the Chief Innovation Officer, the Chief Infrastructure Officer, the Chief Integration Officer or the Chief Intelligence Officer. Q3: At your ICIS 2009 presentation you talked about “conversations that matter. ” Could you expand on that? While answering this question, Peter Keen focused most on innovation, and how the CIOs innovation can be beneficial to the organization. Besides, Professor Keen talked about the appropriate language used between CIOs.

He also claimed that for an effective conversation, discussions should be worth sharing, questioning and arguing about rather than shoptalk and social chat. For Peter keen, some intersections that are between CxOs, CIOs, IT professionals and educators’ dialogs, are the kind of discussions where CxOs are present and that are never cancelled because there is someone high up in the organization that cares about them as personal and leadership priority. In these intersections, some irreversible business decisions are made, where most fruitful discussions are about how to enter a market overseas and other important subjects.

CIOs are usually present in those conversations for the aim of bringing some innovation in solving some issues like costs of operations and not discussing them. Few years ago, moving IT as a profession towards business awareness has well progressed as CxOs came late to see that IT is a great opportunity for them to evaluate the coordination of technology for their company, saying that they were unimaginative ever before. As I see it, companies have been losing or badly investing in some things that are worthless relatively to what IT has done in the business domain.

Q4: Why do conversations that matter in CxO circles address innovation, rather than invention? While checking up the definition of both invention and innovation, I came up with this difference: “invention” is based on creating a new product or introducing a process for the very first time; however, “innovation” occurs when a person makes improvement on or an interesting contribution to a product, service or process that already exists. According to Dr. Peter Keen, innovation is way more efficient and interesting than invention since innovation is more about creating value.

He also states that CxOs must be part of the limited people inside an organization who are able to talk about innovation. In his point of view, neither invention nor innovation should be underestimated or overestimated. “We very much believe that we are never going to invent everything inside the company, and that we need to have the spirit of open innovation to be as good a technical company as we want to be. ” Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, General Electric. Let’s take the example of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). RFID is a concrete example of the problems faced while transitioning from invention to business value. Successful companies actively cultivate new ideas, put those ideas to work quickly and efficiently, and harvest the business value benefits of successful innovations. Discussions of innovation often focus on what a company offers, that is, its products and services. In Managing Information Technology Innovation for Business Value, Esther Baldwin and Martin Curley show how successful IT innovations pay back handsomely as well. Innovation is not just about what a company offers; innovation is also about how a company conducts business and how IT innovation can transform an organization into a significantly more efficient company. (Baldwin & Curley, 2009). What I think Peter is trying to say here is that when investing in an innovative IT solution, the business gains in terms of value. Moreover, when practicing innovation, it is considered as very essential for the success of the firm’s IT investment. I favor defining “innovation” as being the commercialization of an “invention”. And, an “invention” is a mental construct that can at least theoretically improve some human ability to manipulate the environment in some beneficial way. An “invention” becomes an “innovation” when it is introduced into the economy.

Q5: Can you give us some examples of conversations for innovation? Dr Peter Keen used the example of Amazon to demonstrate how IT can make organizations lower their costs to the bottom line. According to Dr Keen, a discussion and conversation between the CIO and the CFO is needed for a better collaboration so that they go up in terms of money making. They can learn from each other and thus, come up with brilliant ideas and effective strategic decisions. He also said that these one-of-a-kind companies like Google, Amazon, Apple and Wal-Mart inspire other companies and help them make better decisions.

A famous example would be the case of Wal-Mart, in which the CIOs and CxOs relate their work and share conversations that are mostly about the implementation of new strategies that will eventually help the organization decrease their costs to the lowest level. The strategy that Wal-Mart implemented to decrease their costs is having no warehouses. When the company runs out of stock, the IT department can check their suppliers’ warehouse and see if the product they need is available and then simply order it through this system.

In fact, this strategy helped Wal-Mart minimize the cost of owning warehouses since it eliminates the cost of electricity, employees, and phone calls. Q6: Let us take the example of a currently-hyped technical issue such as cloud computing. How can we transform that into a conversation for innovation? To answer this question, Peter Keen argued that things that could be discussed are about how cloud computing can modify the variable cost structure of the enterprise, and how it can add flexibility and speed of response for the IT organization, if we see cloud computing as a conversation for innovation.

Moreover, he considers the change of the customer experience very important, and affirms that IT can help doing that. However, he said that it is useless when CxOs talks about virtualization or open cloud standards. Cloud computing has present an attractive opportunity to both small business and large enterprise. Traditional information systems were predominately operated on physical machines that were in house. The emergence of cloud computing makes it possible to develop information systems on virtual machines that are hosted by cloud service providers.

For the companies that IT is not their core business, cloud computing presents an opportunity to save costs on the development of information systems that support their major business operations. (Chou, 2007) Q7: What is it that you think the IT professional worker in general knows that brings special value to the organization? What is their distinctive competence in the next decade? According to Peter Keen the core competencies of the IT professionals are mainly about analysing at the same time business processes and multi-functional.

This is very important as it has a crucial role in the innovation conversation since the CIOs are usually good in integrating and putting pieces together. He introduced in the article a very good example where he showed that employees in almost all the departments didn’t have a good knowledge about the other departments, yet the IT employees have a general good knowledge about the general process of their organization. Moreover, one of the characteristics that differentiate the IT people from the others is that they really master data assurance , data integrity , and version control .

Furthermore, for Keen it is crucial not to forget or underestimate the difficulties behind executing the innovation of a new aged technology. The IT coordination skills can not just live in the business, but also in the IT organization, or in a third-party provider. As we know, achieving good results nowadays can often mean the participation of a multitude loosely related resources since effective coordination skills are essential. Among these skills we can find coordination, analysis and innovation. Reichental, 2011) Q8: What does all this mean for IS academics as researchers and teachers? Keen in the article discussed briefly the importance of reinventing the executive education in order to form a new generation of IT leaders. Therefore, this new generation of future CIO and CxOs keep growing and learning from the innovation of the actual CIO and CxOS. However in educational function, IS academics need to expand their role in different contexts as social and political changes, which involve the delivery of generic IS/IT skills through the different types of education. (Gough, 2000).

Cite this Mis Engaging in Cio-Cxo “Conversations That Matter”: an Interview with Peter Keen

Mis Engaging in Cio-Cxo “Conversations That Matter”: an Interview with Peter Keen. (2016, Oct 29). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/mis-engaging-in-cio-cxo-conversations-that-matter-an-interview-with-peter-keen/

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