ABB CIO Alec Joannou: Proactive IT aligns with business strategy to drive growth

by Agnes Hartl

OUT NOW im #ConfareBlog with Alec Joannou:
Proactive IT aligns with business strategy to drive growth

In today’s dynamic market environment, businesses face significant challenges. To meet these, internal IT plays a crucial role. It’s no longer just about fulfilling customer desires and implementing instructions. CIOs must now actively participate in and drive corporate strategy.

Our latest research for the “Proactive IT” factsheet offers exciting insights. We talk with leading IT decision-makers and distinguished CIOs from the Confare network. This factsheet is created in cooperation with Lakeside Software.

Confare #CIOAWARD Winner Alec Joannou is Global CIO of ABB. The company is active in several business areas in more than 100 countries and employs more than 100,000 people. AI and digital transformation are key topics for the future. In this interview, Alec describes his role in proactively advancing these issues throughout the enterprise.

Meet the IT management experts from Lakeside at the Confare #CIOSUMMITs in Vienna, Zurich and Frankfurt, the most important CIO gatherings in the German speaking area. Lakeside provides IT executives worldwide with comprehensive insights into their IT systems, infrastructure, and architecture – a crucial basis for truly proactive IT. Register now for free, participation is complimentary for IT managers.

Don’t miss the Confare Factsheet “Proactive IT”. Secure your free subscription to the Confare Factsheet here: Factsheet Subscription.

Meet Confare #CIOAWARD winner Alec Joannou from ABB and several hundred high-profile Swiss IT managers at Switzerland’s most important IT event, Confare #CIOSUMMIT Zurich. Register here for free as an IT Manager.

swiss ciosummit zürich

What truly defines proactive IT? What role do you play as a CIO in this?

Alec Joannou – ABB: As a CIO, my definition of proactive IT is to fully appreciate and understand the business vision and strategy and then proactively build the enabling technologies to drive positive value and growth back to the business. And proactive IT is required to keep the lights on but also to enable the future strategy of an organisation. A great example was the pandemic, we proactively made sure that we had the infrastructure and connectivity to enable our full workforce of over 100K people to work remotely so that we would not impact the business. In terms of future strategy, as a company we are heavily focused on digitisation and AI in all areas of the business and how these can bring both business and sustainability benefits to our organisation and more importantly to our customers and we can only really achieve that by proactively building modular and flexible infrastructure and connectivity solutions to enable these.

Where are the key action areas to transform IT from a reactive to a proactive state?

Alec Joannou – ABB: For us to become proactive we need to focus on building the right skills and competencies within the IT function. It is also about creating Fusion teams – getting IT closer to the business and the business closer to IT. This will enable closer collaboration and speed to market. Proactiveness is also about understanding the business strategy and where value will be delivered, developing a culture of innovation, focussing on the user experience, sustainability, security, compliance and building a flexible and agile IT infrastructure to support the business strategy.

What requirements are there for IT infrastructure and architecture to play the role of a proactive IT?

Alec Joannou – ABB: To enable proactive IT, the IT infrastructure and architecture must be flexible, scalable, and able to support the rapid deployment of new technologies and services. Core platforms must be set up so that we enable modularity and what we call plug and play solutions. Items such as compliance and security have to be embedded in those platforms. Speed to market will be the competitive differentiator and both architecture and infrastructure will play a key role in delivering that edge.

Which tools, mechanisms, and methods have proven effective in understanding the needs and desires of employees for a proactive IT?

Alec Joannou – ABB: Many of the needs and desires for proactive IT are actually driven by both the business and factors external to the work environment. Employees want the same user experience they have in the personal capacity as the one they would like to have at work. And AI and defining personas will play a big part in enabling proactive IT. There is a huge movement to democratise the use of IT and also to ensure that our employees become more empowered but also more productive in everything they do. They need to feel that the tools and support given allows them to add value to whatever they are doing – a win win for both employee and company. And then the business will insist on proactive IT. They have preventive and predictive maintenance on their equipment and products and the question would be why does IT not have the same capability with their hardware, connectivity and overall services.


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