Smart Enterprise Magazine

Volume 7, Number 3, 2013

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Leadership Perspective Made in the U.K. Disruptive technology and smart partnerships are helping British CIOs make their organizations more innovative. CIOs worldwide, take note. | By Jacqueline de Rojas IMAGE: CA TECHNOLOGIES I nnovation is happening all around us. In the U.K., smart CIOs are using innovation to not only help their organizations survive today's fiercely competitive environment, but also position them for success once the economy improves. These CIOs are innovating with a combination of new, disruptive technologies and what I call "smart partnerships." CIOs who employ both strategies can deliver competitive advantages that will stand their organizations in good stead for the future. While innovation is a global imperative, U.K. companies are forerunners, especially in the fast-moving, customer-driven sectors of consumer banking and retail. In these two industries, U.K. customers hunger for new products, applications and solutions — all served up quickly on a wide array of computers and mobile devices. Given today's tough economic conditions, organizations with any hope of keeping up — let alone creating competitive advantage — must innovate or die. That may sound dramatic. But when we look at the importance of innovation in today's marketplace, it's clear that companies really have no alternative. A terrific example of innovation using disruptive technology is Nationwide Building Society, a leading U.K. provider of personal financial services. Nationwide is implementing a £1 billion (approximately $1.5 billion) IT project as part of an effort to transform itself into a full-service financial institution. Nationwide launched the U.K.'s first online bank some 13 years ago, but more recently realized that this system had become outdated. While creating its replacement banking system, Nationwide sought a quicker and less expensive way to test the performance of new and upgraded applications than constructing a copy of its live environment. So instead, Nationwide constructed a virtualized testing environment. This enabled Nationwide's developers to get their apps to market faster than the competition by testing the applications in a virtual live "U.K. customers hunger for new products, applications and solutions — all served up quickly on a wide array of computers and mobile devices." environment, a far quicker and less expensive method than building a copy of the live environment. Rolling out a live version of the customer database alone would have been time-consuming and extremely expensive. Smart Partnerships Competitive advantage isn't only about innovative technology; it's also about innovative routes to market. Two former competitors — Primark Stores, a leading U.K. brick-andmortar discount fashion retailer, and Asos, a popular, cutting-edge online fashion site — recently formed a smart partnership to attract budget-squeezed consumers. Under the agreement, Primark now offers more than 100 of its products on the Asos site, eliminating the need to develop an online marketplace on its own website, another time-consuming and costly process. Asos and customers of both companies also win with online availability of Primark's high-demand discount products. Primark products not only attract new customers to the Asos website, but also encourage existing customers to visit more often. And once customers are online to buy Primark products, Asos can cross-market other products on its site to them. What's more, neither partner was required to make a substantial investment in technology integration or development. What works for CIOs in the U.K. could help CIOs everywhere. Whether IT leaders seek to build agile development capabilities or eliminate lengthy development processes completely, they can implement disruptive technologies and form smart partnerships. The results will deliver innovation and competitive advantage. I JACQUELINE DE ROJAS is VP and General Manager, U.K. and Ireland, for CA Technologies. 2013 • SMART ENTERPRISE 11

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