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2015 Visionary CIO speaks to ITWeb about his active approach to developing skills and capacity for the sector

Peter du Plooy completed his MBA almost 20 years ago. His main focus was understanding individual preferences and behaviours and then delivering services tailored to those preferences. His research focused more on a pull model and shifting power to the consumer. His foresight: technology enabling in-depth analysis and marketing capability, in its infancy 20 years ago, has come to fruition in the business of analytics and intelligence over the past five years.

He studied psychology as a major, and as such, has always been interested in understanding human behaviour and creating models for service delivery based on the needs of the consumer. This is paired with his interest in technology and opportunities to embrace enabling technologies. Du Plooy believes that since we have access to vast amounts of data and the capabilities to string these together, we can improve analysis in general, which includes, scenario development, predictive, correlations and pattern recognition, and using this knowledge to bring about digital enablement.

Xhead= A predictive-based infrastructure

Du Plooy will address the ITWeb Business Intelligence Summit in March 2016, where he will unpack his role in Engen Petroleum's transition from historic BI to in-memory predictive-based infrastructure. Over the past two years Engen has embarked on establishing data governance structures and re-architecting the BI environment to facilitate predictive analytics. This project went live in November 2015 and we are looking forward to hearing about its successes and pitfalls in March.

Du Plooy will also engage with the audience during a panel discussion on the issue: Taking BI to the decision-maker, a current stumbling block along the path to predictive analytics for many CIOs.

Skills Development

Du Plooy is passionate about actively developing skills and capacity within the ICT sector. This was one of the reasons that guaranteed him a spot as a finalist in the Visionary CIO Awards held in November 2015.

Du Plooy explains that people development is an extension of his interest in understanding and tracking behavioural trends. He firmly believes that it is important to stay abreast of global trends, be they, economic, political, social or technological, and in the importance of trying to understand the needs of the individual while being influenced by these macro factors. Once this is better understood we can then distil them to create environments that challenge and stimulate personal growth. The reward comes when he gets to work with people who are energetic and enthusiastic, and who want to grow, develop and improve their thinking.

What does 2016 hold in store

Du Plooy is keen to continue his role as a crusader for skills development in ICT in South Africa and he plans to use his new position as 2015 Visionary CIO to open more doors. He would like to get more involved with start-up companies and graduates with a keen interest in technologies, which will ultimately result in improving our social context.

He accepts that this isn't going to be easy, as he tries to balance his personal drive to be "out there" with his need to maintain focus and his energy on his role as CIO of Engen.

Advice to new entrants

Peter du Plooy, CIO Engen Petroleum and Visionary CIO, 2015.

Peter du Plooy, CIO Engen Petroleum and Visionary CIO, 2015.

Du Plooy explains to ITWeb that those considering entering the world of BI and data analytics should think beyond mere reporting and historic data dashboards.

He notes that "it is imperative that you spend time focusing on predictive analytic models, algorithms and other technologies, including harvesting opportunities presented by IOT, where data can be obtained, correlations made and hybrid hosting of on and off-premises data can be integrated".

Finally, Du Plooy believes that one should extend data beyond the organisation and move analytics to those in the company that understand data, in other words "move visualisation and correlations outside of IT, into business departments".

Behind the face

We wanted to get to know the man behind the title.

Du Plooy revealed to ITWeb that he has had to learn the hard way; that things do not always go his way; that it is important to trust in and rely on one's strengths and emotional intelligence in situations where one is less than certain. He also believes that it is important for everyone to reflect often, and to acknowledge early on, that in order to achieve success you cannot go it alone.

Du Plooy is a skilled handy man, who excels in DIY and doing layout and floor design to improve the way people engage with homes and spaces. He keeps track of Elon Musk, whom he admires, and should he be forced to choose a superhero that best represents what he stands for, this would be Superman, for the fact that he saves and helps people in distress.

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