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Increased risk and tight budgets: How are CIOs coping?

Matthew Burbidge
By Matthew Burbidge
Johannesburg, 29 Oct 2021
Brainstorm CIO Survey panel discussion: Dr Stanley Mpofu, CIO of Wits University, Unathi Mtya, group CIO of African Bank, and Lungile Mginqi, Group CIO of Sasol.
Brainstorm CIO Survey panel discussion: Dr Stanley Mpofu, CIO of Wits University, Unathi Mtya, group CIO of African Bank, and Lungile Mginqi, Group CIO of Sasol.

It has been a tough two years for technology professionals. They, along with their board counterparts, played a crucial role in the response to the pandemic, while coping with budget and compliance pressures. Over a hundred technology professionals attended this year’s CIO Banquet at the Inanda Club in Sandton on Thursday evening, where along with a panel of CIOs, they chewed over the results of the eighth annual Brainstorm CIO Survey, run in partnership with MTN Business.

Mthoko Mncwabe, Acsa CIO, said many businesses had been caught off guard when COVID struck, and it was already too late to begin digitising the organisation. “When COVID hit, the critical element was how much value was your technology delivering?

“Business revenue streams started to freeze in certain areas. Everybody, including business and IT, had to put their heads together and ask how to drive revenue streams.”

Lungile Mginqi, the Group CIO of Sasol, said his organisation had upped its defensive budget to ensure that the business was secure and that staff could work from home.

“The growth budget was not affected by the transactional budget. I’ve taught my business to separate the IT budget and the growth budget. Those are separate conversations.”

Nomonde White-Ndlovu, the head of Governance, Risk and Compliance in Absa’s Information and Technology Office, was chairing the discussion, and wanted to know from the panellists if they had the latitude to make their own purchasing decisions and if they were gaining financial power as CIOs.

Unathi Mtya, Group CIO of African Bank, said this depended on the kind of organisation. In a firm where the CEO and exco ‘think IT is there to give them computers’, the CIO will have no decision making powers or latitude.

An evolved organisation, on the other hand, will realise the importance of technology in its future journey.

Nomthi Nelwamondo, group CIO, Assupol Holdings Limited.
Nomthi Nelwamondo, group CIO, Assupol Holdings Limited.

“I’ve yet to see transformational journey that is not going to be driven by technology,” she said.

Stanley Mpofu, CIO at University of the Witwatersrand, had to move particularly quickly when it became clear that students and lecturers would need to be working and learning from home.

“When I set up my strategy I put a roadmap in place. If you have a roadmap, the issue of budgets becomes something that is resolved at the governance structure. You don’t have to convince anyone else.”

White-Ndlovu said the results of the survey showed that CIOs are spending more time in governance and compliance and risk meetings. “What that means is that less of your time is spent on execution and delivering that which you need to do. Do you agree?”

Mginqi said he wasn’t surprised by that finding, and CIOs now needed to be much more precise in how they looked the risk landscape.

Nomonde White-Ndlovu chared the panel discussion, with Dr Stanley Mpofu, CIO of Wits; Lungile Mginqi, group CIO of Sasol; Unathi Mtya, group CIO of African Bank; Mthoko Mncwabe, CIO of ACSA; and Nomthi Nelwamondo, group CIO of Assupol.
Nomonde White-Ndlovu chared the panel discussion, with Dr Stanley Mpofu, CIO of Wits; Lungile Mginqi, group CIO of Sasol; Unathi Mtya, group CIO of African Bank; Mthoko Mncwabe, CIO of ACSA; and Nomthi Nelwamondo, group CIO of Assupol.

“There’s an expectation at board level for you to have a very good understanding of what is goingon in the audit committee and being able to respond to what is raised with IT risk. There’s much more scrutiny of your plans.”

View the preliminary results of Brainstorm’s 2021 CIO Survey

These were the preliminary results, as the survey is still running. The final results will be included in a comprehensive research report, which will dig deeper into the data and trends, and be available early next year.

To view the preliminary results presentation slides, click here.

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