CIO Studio: The Why

02 August 2023 03:00 PM By CIO Studio
A few people have recently asked what we do at CIO Studio and the big question – the “why”.  Rather than just giving the elevator pitch, I thought I’d dig into it a bit more here, especially the why.

If I was giving the elevator pitch, I’d say something about providing access to highly experienced CIO-level people for small and medium businesses – people they couldn’t otherwise access. Democratising strategic tech if you will. Solving big gnarly problems.

That’s all good. But let's be honest, that's the "what" not the “why”.

So what is the why? It sounds a bit corny, but actually we’re on a mission. Let me explain.

A frustrating juxtaposition

Like many of my colleagues, I’ve spent my life getting the most out of technology. I did a degree in it. I’ve founded tech companies and built them up. I’ve been the “go-to” digital tech strategy person for lots of organisations (formally and informally).

In my case, I even oversaw the creation of many of New Zealand’s computing qualifications, helped develop the Digital Tech curriculum in schools and represented New Zealand in forums overseas. And I was the Chief Executive of IT Professionals NZ, the professional body of the tech sector, for ages.

But enough about me. The reason I mention all of that is not some sort of humble-brag, but for context. Because one thing that has frustrated the heck out of many of us over the years is this juxtaposition:

The ability of digital tech to absolutely empower and unleash New Zealand businesses, and the sheer number of NZ businesses who aren’t empowered or unleashed by digital tech.

Most bona fide CIOs know what a decent action-oriented digital tech strategy can do for a business. They know the difference a good plan – aligned with the business strategy – can make and they know how good execution can bring huge scale and growth.

Take a look at Air NZ. They don’t just fly planes: they’re a technology company first and foremost and that’s where they get their strategic advantage; whether it be in bookings, scheduling, loyalty, or massive efficiency gains by managing planes in the air effectively. 

Same with Fonterra – their strategic advantage isn’t milk powder, it’s the innovation and technology they use to improve it, track it, and get it to markets. And it’s the same with almost any successful business these days, large and small.

Contrary to sometimes popular belief, figuring out how to do it properly isn’t something you can learn from YouTube – it takes experience, hard knocks, success and failure. It takes people who know what they’re doing and have made a career out of doing it.

People who don’t just “do” IT, but who genuinely understand how to innovate and empower business. Or can help figure it out when things are broken.

Where CIO Studio came from

Here’s the problem: so often, those with the knowledge and experience at the strategic end just aren’t within reach for many NZ companies, beyond big companies with big budgets. And especially not a team of them with deep experience across lots of areas.

That’s the key reason Founder Ray Delany set up CIO Studio in the first place, and what has really driven the team every day since.

Most companies (beyond very large ones) don’t actually need a full-time strategic CIO. And even if they did, most CIOs don’t individually have the experience or skills in every area an organisation might need.

So, Ray set out to find a way for NZ businesses to have their cake and eat it too.

In essence, CIO Studio is a team of experienced CIOs and CTOs who work on a “fractional” basis across New Zealand to help companies unravel what’s happening with their digital tech, plot a plan, then help make it happen.

It’s usually cheaper that a full-time CIO, better (as they get access to a team of specialists rather than just one), is scalable up or down, and effective.

And none of the usual consultant “nice idea” unworkable academic concept stuff – a team that pull up sleeves and helps oversee the “doing” as well – as they have been their whole careers.

So why does that all matter?

Coming back to the juxtaposition.

This sounds like a pitch but it’s really not: we exist to connect experienced digital leaders to organisations that need a hand, so they can use their strategic experience to help unleash and empower these companies across New Zealand.

It’s not just knowing the difference digital and tech can make to a company – but actually helping make it a reality and, most importantly, seeing the outcome of that.

The outcome – and getting digital tech right for companies across New Zealand so they can take the world on – is the real why. 

Because there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a hamstrung business thrive again. It's seriously good.

We think there’s no reason super experienced digital strategists should be the exclusive preserve of larger businesses with larger budgets. It’s about the true democratisation of digital and technology strategy, helping empower and unleash Kiwi businesses of all sizes.

Does that still sound like a pitch? Maybe. But that's our why and we're pretty excited about it!

Paul Matthews is Chief Executive of CIO Studio, experts in digital and technology strategy and implementation. Contact CIO Studio to find out how we can help you.

Paul Matthews
Chief Executive, CIO Studio