Focussing IT for strategic value in public sector organisations

While attending the interesting presentations at the Chief Strategy Officer Summit (#CSOLDN), it struck me that when applied to IT, strategy somIMG_0208.JPGetimes focuses on the wrong elements. Here is a short article on how to focus IT on bringing strategic value.
It is generally recognized that as a baseline, an organization’s overall IT budget (i.e. not just the IT function but also the shadow IT elements) can be split according to a 70-20-10 rule rule of thumb:
– 70% covers operations (“running” of infrastructure and information systems, with accountable, cost-focussed resources);
– 20% covers transformation of business processes (demand and process-improvement driven, competency centers,medium-term life-cycle);
– 10% covers innovation (digital business driven, fast, innovation focused partnering of IT & business).
One of the problems is that the better the 70% runs, the less visible the whole IT element becomes to top management creating the false impression that it can be safely ignored. “Why should one invest in IT if everything works?” If the answer to the question “Did we have any major downtime with IT services?” is yes, then the immediate priority should be on fixing operations (a no-brainier, really). If the answer is no, then the focus should be on investing in innovation & transformation of business processes. Being satisfied with the optimal running of existing services without investing in IT innovation and digitization of business processes creates a future handicap for the organization.
Considering that IT enables most of what an organization does these days, an indicator of how serious such organization is about the development of its future capability is the amount of budget spent on IT excluding operations (this means on transformation of business processes and innovation). A further indication is how much of this budget relates to the programmatic work (for public sector) or to the core revenue streams (private/commercial).
Current top IT priorities for public sector organisations are the focus on innovation and investment prioritization, data solutions, decision support and business intelligence, interoperability and architecture as strategic elements. All this requires additional investments, and the results can positively change the organization, enhancing capabilities & capacity. The danger is that if the increased budget is associated with administration or operations, and not associated with the budget for the core/substantive/programmatic activities, then these increases will be negatively perceived by stakeholders.
In the light of the rationale presented at the beginning of this article, organizations need to consider having IT budget distinctly associated with their programmatic one.
A strong leadership is needed at the top to recognize the comparative advantage that IT brings to the organization, and implement this type of budgetary changes.

Which IT skills will be in short supply?

infoskills1Here is an article which looks at the difficulties faced by CIOs in hiring new talent, by  , published on September 08, 2014 in ZDNet. A number of CIOs and IT Directors including yours truly, give their views on this possibility.

My position?
<begin quote>

Others, like Florentin Albu, CIO at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations point to a particular set of skills that are in demand. He said some types of skills can be found relatively easily – for example operations and infrastructure, application and app development on mainstream platforms and project management.

But he added: “I see a shortage of skills in areas that can at this moment bring strategic value to the business. I would consider in very much demand at present big data specialists, GIS experts, versed information managers and high end information security professionals, to name but a few.”

<end quote>

Read the full article here:

3D printing will shake up businesses

3dpshakeup Here is an article which looks at whether CIOs need to build a business case for 3D printing, by  , published on August 1, 2014 in ZDNet. A number of CIOs and IT Directors including yours truly, give their views on this possibility.

My position?
<begin quote>

Florentin Albu, CIO at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, said he had been monitoring developments in 3D printing for several years and saw it as a clear example of crowd-based innovation, with people openly experimenting, sharing their results and applying the feedback and knowledge back into their projects to improve them further.

“3D printing is going to shake up a lot of businesses which deal with physical goods, and is no doubt going to bring a lot of intellectual property challenges” he said.

According to Albu, CIOs are in the position to be the ‘chief innovation officer’ for the business: “We are the catalyst, enabling the employees to see the technology in action and letting them bring these ideas to life,” he said.

Albu feels that potentially disruptive technologies like this should be assessed in a three-step process. The first step is to involve employees in the form of workshops and idea contests to help uncover new perspectives that can be explored further. The ideas generated can then be assessed and some explored in a more structured manner for their potential to deliver competitive advantages, which can then lead a third stage where business cases can be developed for the most promising ideas.

<end quote>

Read the full article here:

Keeping IT light: LinkedIn & Facebook Disclaimer for IT people

Keeping IT lightBe aware that contacting me on LinkedIn/Facebook does not create an
IT Helpdesk-customer relationship.

Please do not include your email password in the public posts on my wall.

Do note that, in general, the approach “switching it off and on again” does fix problems, with notable exceptions such as in-flight aircraft or intensive care/life support systems etc, in which case it might also generate trouble.

(Thanks to Monica Marinescu, the best lawyer in Rome, for the inspiration given with the legal disclaimers.)

Is the business ready for the cloud?


Here is an article which tries to answer the question of using the cloud for all IT business needs, by  , published on July 1, 2014 in ZDNet. A number of CIOs and IT Directors including yours truly, give their views on this possibility.

My position?
<begin quote>

Florentin Albu, CIO at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, said that only businesses that have been redesigned for the current digital era will be able to take full advantage of the cloud. “Companies are already able to run most of their applications in the cloud – from ERP to more common office apps (email, document management). They cannot (yet) run all applications in this way and the reasons are cost, attitude towards risk, operating model, physical limitations.”

<end quote>

Read the full article here:


Photo courtesy of Nicholas Raymond, published on Flickr under Creative Commons.

Digital disruption on the farm – prescriptive planting

An interesting article from The Economist (24 May 2014) on the use of big data on the farm and the relationship with prescriptive planting – the “system that tells them [farmers] with great precision which seeds to plant and how to cultivate them in each patch of land”.
There is a reference to The Climate Corporation which was founded by two Google ex-employees, mapping US land info, soil details and weather data with the purpose of using the aggregated data for selling crop insurance. This company was later bought by Monsanto for about USD 1 billion – one of the largest takeovers of a data company. #bigdataagriculture

Read more about it here:


Views on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet

Here is an article on the Surface Pro 3, by By  in Tech Decision MakerMay 29, 2014, 6:29 AM PST //  @steveranger A number of CIOs and IT Directors give their views on this technology.

My position?

<begin quote>

Florentin Albu, CIO at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, said whether Surface will make a breakthrough depends on the type of work being done. For example, workers who are information consumers – such as executives – have already made a move towards iPads and to a lesser extent Androids. In contrast workers who need to do heavy document editing, Excel processing, desktop-publishing and the like are unlikely to be convinced, he said, while for staff involved in data entry the cost of the hardware will be the main barrier.

He said: “I believe that unfortunately the Surface tablet needs to catch up with iOS and Android ones, and it is not the hardware but the application ecosystem that will win this war. The Surface banks on the significant number of applications that come with the Windows heritage (well at least the ones running on Windows 8). Most of these however have been designed in the pre-cloud era.

“Looking at the iOS or Android ecosystem, mostly everything is designed to use the cloud – for storage, processing, integration etc. Clearly this will change as Windows apps are catching up. Will the change come in time though?”

Albu added: “In a BYOD era, the question is which device is more appealing to the end user? I have not seen the Surface generating much co-worker envy, like the iPads or – to an extent – the Galaxys have done…we will definitely see an uptake of Surface in the enterprise, it might not, however, be to a point of domination.”

<end quote>

Read the full article here:

Tools for Digital Executives (Spring 2014 app list)

This is the Spring 2014 list of what I consider to be the iPad/iPhone must-have digital tools.

Let’s face it: You are a busy executive; you might want to spend time trying out some of the myriad new apps, but time is a luxury you don’t have.

Here is the list of what I think are the best. It’s probably subjective & not scientifically proven. At the same time, it will save you time, and make you more productive.Over the past years I have used and assessed a lot of apps for personal use, and I thought that the results might be useful to others.

Please note that I do not have an interest in, nor am I connected to the companies producing these apps.

If you choose to use any of them, you do so at your own risk. Some of them are free, for others you have to pay, so make your own decision.

If you know of some other apps that you think are worth being included, please mention them in a comment, maybe they will be on the next list.

Calendar management


Office suites:

MS Office (if you have a 365 subscription it allows edits as well)

Presentations: Note – if you do a lot of presentations from your iPad, you might want to get the iPad to VGA or HDMI connector from Apple, so that you display content on larger screens/projectors)

Keynote – if you install it both on iPad and iPhone, you link them together by Bluetooth and control the presentation from your iPhone;

– Powerpoint (part of the MS Office suite – see above)

Note taking:

Evernote (main repository of info, quite a few other apps integrate with it)

OneNote (in theory notes can be synced via Sharepoint but I did not managed yet to do this)

Drafts (very good at integrating with other tools, “always ready” type of app)

ToDo/Action Tracking


Beesy (good for note taking and action tracking with deadlines etc; syncs with


Training slides/explaining:


Document viewer

Documents (by Readdle) with integration for Dropbox

Printing tools:

Printer Pro by Readdle (integrates with Documents)

Annotate/edit PDF

PDF Expert (by Readdle) integrates with Documents


Day One

Useful books:

First Aid – British Red Cross (stand-alone app)


Flipboard (creating magazine-style news from your social media sources

News360 (aggregating news from various sources incl. social media)

TED (Ideas Worth Spreading) – app giving free access to TED seminars


Snapseed (photo editing)

Over (adding text to photos)

Maps & GPS (in addition to standard Apple & Google maps)

National Geographic World Atlas

Google earth

Cloud Storage


Microsoft SkyDrive/ One Drive

Password management

1Password (hi security, sync of locally encrypted files with Dropbox)


Document scanning

JotNot Pro (iPhone)

Prizmo (has good OCR function – so far the only one I found to be reliable in this area)

Offline reader


Workflow/action correlation platform

IFTT (If this then that)

Geographical Information Systems (GIS)


Finance calculators (formulas eg ROI, NPV etc)

afffree (all financial formulas free)

Social Media bridge

HootSuite (controlling/posting on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc)




Shazam (recognizing songs)

Project Management

SG Project Pro


– WordPress

Good opportunity for IT to make a difference in 2012

Here is an article with an outlook on IT in 2012, published in TechRepublic by  in CIO InsightsDecember 21, 2011, 7:50 PM PST //  @steveranger

My position?

<begin quote>

Florentin Albu, CIO at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, said: “I believe that next year will give IT a good opportunity to innovate and make a difference. You can’t hold your breath over longer periods of time and be competitive at the same time. A lot of businesses realise this and I see a rethinking of how IT is being funded.”

<end quote>

Read the full article here:


Positive outlook for cloud computing but issues still need to be tackled

Here is an article on the outlook for using Cloud Computing, by  in CIO Insights, June 04, 2010

My position?

<begin quote>

“Not all IT chiefs are convinced about the immediate prospects for cloud computing, however. Florentin Albu, ICT manager at Eumetsat, warned: “At present there are still legal and performance (SLA) issues to be addressed.”.”

<end quote>

Read the full article here: