Q&A: George Rockett, DatacenterDynamics

When executives gathered in Singapore for the second CIO Roundtable of the Transform to Better Perform program, one of the most outspoken panelists was the co-founder and CEO of DatacenterDynamics (DCD).

George Rockett worked in the media and events side of the IT industry for more than two decades before taking over the lead of DCD, which helps senior professionals make better decisions about infrastructure and capacity.

IT has always been a toolset within businesses, and the best way to use a tool is if you know that tool inside out.

We caught up with the London-based Rockett to ask his take on the topics discussed at the closed-door session, including finding ways to drive more innovation from corporate IT groups.

Transform: What are roadblocks to driving more innovation from the IT group, and what can be done to remove them?

Rockett: IT has always been a toolset within businesses, and the best way to use a tool is if you know that tool inside out. I think you could argue that there aren't enough business leaders who are literate with IT. Those businesses that are really successful in the current business environment have business leaders who are IT conversant. So I think it's just turning the question around.

Transform: Should the IT team be brought in before, during or after business leaders choose a new technology?

Rockett: It's totally clear that IT needs to be brought in before business leaders choose a new technology. That doesn't mean they should be there as the only decision makers, but you need that perspective because implementation is one of the key problems on choosing any technology. And implementation is about training and integration work, so if you don’t have IT there, it's going to fail.

Transform: You visit many companies. Do you believe IT teams in general have the financial resources and skill sets needed to support the kind of innovation that leads to true transformation?

Rockett: How many MBA courses have major subject errors about understanding IT? I don't have an answer but many people I meet who have done these courses don't seem as literate as they should be around IT. The same goes for IT teams. The IT teams don't necessarily have the business training, and that goes all the way through universities and schools. IT is a tool. It's not really coupled with anything else. So I think this is a big need for change in the learning level.

Transform: What should companies use to evaluate the business contributions of the IT team?

Rockett:  The world's most successful Internet companies very clearly do have metrics that show the impact of IT at every second on their business. You just have to look at the work done by organizations like eBay that can match the carbon usage down to every transaction they do online. You've seen Google come out with metrics that show how people are using their devices and how that translates to money. So it's already there for the real early adopters and the people on the bleeding edge. They already do it.

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Transform:  Finally, what advice would you offer to CIOs who want to enhance the level of innovation within their organizations?

Rockett:  CIOs who want to enhance the level of innovation in their organizations -- from any type or size of companies -- might think about maybe becoming CEOs at some stage because we're going to need that IT literacy right at the top of the chain.


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