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Arming Against Future Challenges – Strategies for IT Leaders

Posted 19th April 2010.

Interview with: Kai Beckmann, Chief Information Officer, Merck

Cannes, France, April 19, 2010 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

As companies adjust to the new economic landscape and IT budgets recover slowly, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) need to implement strategies that will arm their organisation against future challenges. But according to Kai Beckmann, the CIO at Merck, CIOs need not wait for any new initiatives that could solve all their issues – there are plenty of approaches that need better implementation to be fully effective. A speaker at the marcus evans European CIO Summit 2010 taking place in France, 19 – 21 April 2010, Beckmann shares his thoughts on IT architecture standardisation, cloud computing and long-term strategies for IT leaders.

What challenges are CIOs in Europe facing at the moment, and what strategies to overcome those issues would you suggest?

Kai Beckmann: Surely a current challenge is to overcome the economic crisis, however I prefer to focus on the flexibility of IT organisations to react to such events and their level of preparedness for dealing with changes that come up. Actually, one of the lessons of the past year is that we cannot always predict economical changes, which means that regardless of todays situation, CIOs need to maintain and even increase flexibility to be ready for the future. They ought to think whether their organisation is able to quickly react to changing environments and consider standardising their IT architecture and utilising more flexible sourcing options to be able to scale their architecture accordingly.

What opportunities do cloud computing initiatives offer?

Kai Beckmann: The main solid outcome of cloud computing initiatives is higher flexibility in service provisioning. But cloud computing has its benefits as well as disadvantages, including data protection issues and legal challenges of complex global structures which need to be carefully considered and discussed beforehand. CIOs have to look at what they need to do as an organisation and how they can get ready for future goals. Standardising the architecture enables IT leaders to make better use of service provisioning approaches, such as cloud computing or software as a service.

What long-term strategies would you recommend to CIOs?

Kai Beckmann: There is not a single strategic approach that solves all problems, but I would recommend deriving the IT strategy from the corporate strategy, and thinking of how the two can be best aligned. It is crucial for the CIO to maintain a close relationship with the companys Executive Board, e.g. to review corporate goals on an annual basis and to make sure IT is in the loop of what is needed. And it goes without saying that on a more day-to-day basis it is also very important for the IT unit as such to be closely linked with the numerous business partners in the divisions. The role of IT has basically evolved from the delivery of technical services towards partnering with the business. For this it is essential to be on the same page and speak the same language.

In your opinion, are there any IT strategies or initiatives that can transform the ICT landscape?

Kai Beckmann: There is no golden bullet that will solve all our problems. And in the end, I think it is not a good approach to say that an IT strategy or initiative as such will change the ITC landscape. In the end, the business needs and developments determine the shape of the IT world, because this is where we ideally derive our strategy from! This does not mean we should not always be up-to-date regarding new technologies, and of course it should be our ultimate goal to proactively think of solutions bringing the business forward. These are our means to at least influence the ITC landscape. But the IT world as such is not an IT homebrew; it is the result of business necessities. So whatever they call for will consequently change the face of IT.

What are your projections for the coming few years?

Kai Beckmann: The biggest change we currently see and will continue to see more of in the future is an increase in the expectations of flexibility and scalability within the IT world. In the past, our business was used to reacting to changes within weeks or months, but in the future, people will expect this to be days. We cannot afford to wait for new solutions. Instead, our mission is to be ahead of whatever economic circumstances may appear. We need to have answers ready before questions arise.

Contact: Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian, Press Manager, marcus evans, Summits Division

Tel: + 357 22 849 313
Email: press@marcusevanscy.com

About the European CIO Summit 2010

This unique forum will take place at Majestic Barrire, Cannes, France, 19 21 April 2010. Offering much more than any conference, seminar or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The summit includes presentations on implementing smart cost reduction methods, improving IT capabilities and cloud computing.

For more information please send an email to info@marcusevanscy.com or visit the event website at http://www.europeanciosummit.com/KaiBeckmannInterview

Please note that the summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.

About marcus evans Summits

marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the worlds leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, think tanks, seminars and one-to-one business meetings. For more information, please visit http://www.marcusevans.com

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