For the people, the term CIO or Chief Information Officer is today no longer a new word. CIO Magazine – CIO.com, defines a meaningful elaboration for ‘CIO’. It defines thus: “CIO provides senior executives insights and in-depth knowledge of information technology.” To date, CIOs, both in public and private sectors, have gradually realised their mandates, which are increasingly complicated. ICT and e-Government applications nowadays are poised to citizen’s demand that requires an integration of business functions of intra and inter agencies. This phenomenon forces CIOs to join hands through a proper channel or forum where they can organise networking, collaboration and cooperation for sharing of valuable resources, technology and knowledge as well as for building some joint efforts to fulfil their works and to serve their community as a whole.
When business domain started to recognise the CIO’s role, it was when business has learned how a big role the ICT especially on e-Commerce could play in the business growth. The same analogy has evolved in the public sector when government agencies have experienced from the success of the e-Commerce, and witnessed the contribution of CIO. Soon after this awareness, the value of government CIO’s role and responsibility has been more recognised when e-Government development has emerged in public sector in every corner of the world.
Written in the ‘Executive Summary’ of the ninth annual ITAA survey of federal CIOs in December 1998, quoted: “As we approach the end of the century, federal CIOs are becoming more visible in their roles as information technology (IT) leaders for their agencies. The gradual maturing of the CIO position as well as the heightened emphasis on Year 2000 has combined to increase the focus on many CIOs within their agencies and throughout the government.”
In November 2004, APEC Ministers welcomed the report of ‘Implementing the e-APEC Strategy – Progress and Recommendations for Further Action’, which incorporated the importance of CIOs. “Stepping up Integrated e-Government Services indicated an important key issue among others. IT capacity building is important for digital opportunities in e-Government and the training of CIOs should be a foundation for further human capacity building efforts,” the Report quoted regarding CIOs.
Recent interviews conducted by the eGovmonitor.com also confirmed the important roles of CIOs. Relevant responses especially to the following question ‘What insight and suggestions would you have for other government CIO’s in their respective countries?’ have revealed some significant inputs for CIOs.
Wu Choy Peng, CIO, Government of Singapore, commented, “The Government CIO cannot operate alone. He/She needs to actively engage the various stakeholders in government, at all levels. The Government CIO is in a unique position to create synergy across agencies, work with them to implement processes and systems that integrate across agencies and deliver integrated one-stop services to citizens and businesses. The Government CIO needs to create governance structures that allow agencies to work together on common and shared systems and services, promote coordination and collaboration, with the ultimate goal of realizing the vision of a “networked government” a most challenging and exciting job.”
Ian Watmore, UK Government CIO and UK Head of e-Government, reaffirmed that his top priorities were to create a joined-up business led IT strategy for Government and build a professional IT community within Government. While, Helen McDonald, CIO, Government of Canada, said, “I would recommend that countries consider adopting a citizen-driven service improvement strategy based on citizen consultation. I would also suggest that countries develop inter-jurisdictional strategies, aimed at integrated service delivery, and lower cost delivery through collaboration across the public sector.”
Lastly, Karen Evans, Director, US Federal CIOs Council, said, “We work through various agencies and offices, such as the General Services Administration, inter-governmental office, who works with groups like the National Association of State CIOs to provide updates to state and local officials on our strategic direction. Additionally, we have members on the CIO Council from both state and local associations. I would encourage them to be strong leaders, to measure and track results, to look outside the government sector for best practices.”
The world’s CIO communities could gain a few meaningful points from the implications of the above mentioned. Firstly, CIOs need collaboration across agencies, among central and local governments as well as public and private sectors. Secondly, CIOs need more outward looking so that, among themselves, they can capture and share best practices, experiences and know-how. To this end, building up ICT-CIO professional community as an essential element for collaboration among CIOs and stakeholders on ICT development would help filling up the gaps domestically, regionally and globally.
These are exciting times for executives, CIOs, ICT experts and academia, with a prevailing observation and concerns that have been mentioned above, to think about how CIOs would lead their agencies into the future. How well they would be able to deliver enhanced leadership in the future and how well they manage their worries and problems. This notion has been coming up among the concerned parties to think about forming up a lending hand forum for CIOs worldwide. With this idea bearing in mind, leading economies on CIO development, quoted from the Waseda University’s survey on ‘World ranking on e-Government Measurement’ under the categorised indicator of ‘CIO’, comprising the USA, Japan, Switzerland, and Thailand have agreed to start the ‘International Academy of CIO’ or ‘IAC’.
The prime objective of the IAC would be to collaborate among the organized chapters on R&D and capacity building for CIO and ICT development. In this early stage, Waseda University is secretariat for Japan and Northeast Asia Chapter, which was already inaugurated on 19th January 2006. National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec) is for Thailand Chapter as well as Southeast and Southwest Asia, and was inaugurated on 31st March 2006. George Mason University will represent Americas Chapter, and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology will represent Europe, Africa and Middle East Chapter. These chapters are incorporated as Federal IAC under which more member chapters will be encouraged to join for regional and global cooperation. The first international conference of Federal IAC will be held in Tokyo, Waseda University during June 26-28, 2006 under the theme ‘Global e-Governance’.
The IAC’s objectives includes to establish academic standards based on its research on social phenomenon relating to ICT by elucidating the gradual process of its cause and effect, social and technical relations as well as the framework between the society and ICT on this Information Age; to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas among Academy members, professionals and individuals in academic, business and government professions who are highly concerned with issues related to CIO; to foster the development of best practices in CIO and CIO Councils with the goal of furthering good e-Government; and to introduce a global standard of CIO model by uniting academic resources with practical case studies to strengthen and enhance international competitiveness of the industry for the new Information Age.
Among several activities of IAC includes organising workshops, conventions, symposia, lectures, seminars and meetings; conducting academic researches and surveys; issuing publications such as journals and proceedings; cooperation with related Academies whenever possible to exchange resources and carry out joint research projects; offering opportunities to young and top scholarly researchers actively engaged in the field of CIO including postgraduate students; undertaking global projects; and carrying out any other worldwide activities to accomplish objectives of IAC.
The founders of Federal IAC believe that with the clearly defined missions and activities, the IAC will be able to serve CIO community for their continuing efforts for ICT and e-Government development through an effective collaboration among CIOs, academia and expertise parties both in the public and private sectors. Capacity building for CIO and ICT personnel is also its main focus. The world ICT development community is now ready to witness this substantial move on CIOs towards the ultimate goal of building up a unique information society.