CIOs Debate ‘Cockroach Technology’

May 23, 2013, 1:58 PM ET

CIOs Debate ‘Cockroach Technology’

Michael Hickins

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. — Several CIOs participating in panel discussions at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium here Wednesday said vendors of cloud computing software are making their lives more difficult by selling directly to business users rather than going through traditional IT channels.

CIOs said so-called shadow IT often results in duplicate purchases of similar systems, and makes it difficult for CIOs to use data collected by organizations to best effect. But in a display of disagreement increasingly rare at industry events of this type, one CIO suggested that complexity has always been a way of life for CIOs, and that business users have had to go around IT to purchase cloud computing because IT hasn’t been responsive enough.Most CIOs at the event agreed that cloud computing can help them provide business users with technology resources more quickly than the software and hardware they implement and manage internally. They also understand that business users have often turned to cloud computing on their own, often out of frustration with a lack of responsiveness by IT departments. But that activity creates duplication of services and silos of information that make it difficult for companies to efficiently leverage and analyze all the data organizations collect.

Michael Relich, senior vice president and chief information officer at clothing retailerGuess Inc. , called out cloud vendors that sell directly to the business, saying they are creating additional “complexity” that makes IT more difficult to manage. “It’s getting more complex because it’s proliferating. I call it cockroach technology,” he said.

But Mojgan Lefebvre, SVP and CIO of the Global Specialty unit of Liberty Mutual Insurance, says the complexity Mr. Relich and others complain about has been a part of their lives “all along. Part of it is true and part of it is hype,” she said.

Others noted that IT departments have created frustration among business users because they’ve been slow to provide necessary services. “IT has to shape up,” and be seen as enablers rather than impediments to change, said Sanjay Mirchandani, an executive vice president at EMC Corp. , and its former CIO, during an earlier panel discussion.

Later, Scott Blanchette, senior vice president of information and technology services atVanguard Health Systems , joked that given his military background, “we’d take people [who bring in technology without consulting IT] like that and put them up against the wall and shoot them.” But he said his thinking has evolved, and that he now thinks that kind of behavior helps organizations integrate new innovative technologies.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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