In conversation with Nebula’s CTO, Andre Witte
There is no denying that the tech world has evolved incredibly in recent years and will only continue to evolve. Accompanying the introduction of new and innovative technologies come changes in the role of chief technology officer or CTO. For the modern chief technology officer, it’s essential to meet the business’ needs based on the modern landscape, as well as planning and preparing for the future needs of the organisation.
Keen to find out more about how the role of the CTO has evolved, we chatted to Nebula CTO, Andre Witte.
Q: How do you view the role of the CTO in present day, with specific reference to our current situation?
The pressure of the role has increased significantly almost overnight to relook at all digital opportunities within the market for our businesses. As we all know, the focus for all companies, SME and enterprise alike, has been to go on a digital transformation journey internally within the organisation through automation and externally through the digital re-imaging of our product and services. The situation we find ourselves in now has put further spotlights on CTOs and CDOs across the world to refocus or double down on our digital priorities. At the Nebula group, we are re-looking at our digital roadmap for all our products and internal systems. For the most part, we’re trying to find ways to bring the features and services we believed would only be relevant in a year from now forward to this quarter. I am accountable for ensuring that we can deliver these features and services to the business and to our clients.
Q: What are some of the key CTO priorities?
Digital product acceleration: As a group of businesses with a number of SaaS products, we are focused on making our products and features more widely available by leveraging our partnerships through the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.
Acceleration of cloud adoption within the business: Our decision to build out our cloud platform and SaaS products in Azure has provided us with a fantastic base to fuel our innovation and take advantage of new Azure resources released by Microsoft. CTOs will increasingly put pressure on internal teams to have a ready-to-go cloud environment in order for them to deliver on their digital roadmap for the business.
Internal automation and enabling citizen developers: We aspire to be an employer of choice so that we can attract the best talent in the industry. In order to do so, we believe in enabling all employees to automate their repetitive functions themselves and innovating within the context of their roles and teams. To do this we are focusing on making the appropriate tools, data and functionality available to securely buy or build tools, reporting, apps and bots.
Q: What are some of the main challenges you face as a CTO?
The key to unlocking most innovations is the availability of data related to our core business functions. This data is often widely distributed and fragmented and the master data is poorly maintained. A service development and digital platform approach is required to be able to overcome these hurdles.
Q: How does IT fit in with and support other business functions?
IT remains the key technology enabler for all functions in the business and needs to balance security with innovation. Our view on this is that we need to maintain a very careful balance between empowering all our employees by making all the required data, functionality and tools freely available, while ensuring that our data is secure.
Q: How has cloud adoption and innovation changed in the last few years, for Nebula and for our clients?
As mentioned, our decision to build out our cloud platform and SaaS products in Azure has provided us with a fantastic base to fuel our innovation and to take advantage of new Azure resources released by Microsoft. Because we made the decision to have a strong ready-to-go digital platform in our cloud environment, we find ourselves, together with our clients, in a strong position to be able to take advantage of opportunities in the market. For example, given global COVID-19 lockdowns, there is an increased need for remote working capabilities. Luckily, we already had MS Teams deployed and adopted within our organisation. As another example, we were able to release contactless payment features in our customers' applications in time to address the market need within this crisis. It is impossible to develop, deploy and have these solutions adopted overnight. This should be a reminder to all of us to ensure that we don’t allow ourselves to fall behind the technology curve. It is an essential business continuity service to be up to date and have the best collaboration and digital products available within our business at all times.
Q: How do you expect the role of the CTO to evolve in the next decade?
I believe that CTOs will evolve and become MDs of their own company’s “digital start-up” or new digital divisions in their companies.
Q: What is your favourite productivity app at the moment?
The Power Platform, predominately PowerBI and PowerApps. These have been a great innovation catalyst.