Q&A with Paul Cobban, Managing Director, COO, Technology and Operations, DBS Bank

In advance of Forrester's Summit for CIOs in Singapore on August 30, I had an opportunity to speak with Paul Cobban about his successful transformations at DBS Bank over the past few years. Based in Singapore, Paul oversees business transformation, operational excellence, customer experience, IT project office, procurement, real eastate, operational risk and business continuity management.  I've had a sneak peak at his event presentation and it is excellent.  Paul is a progressive CIO at the forefront of BT innovation and business engagement with a lot of valuable insight to share. 

1. What do you think IT departments are doing right and wrong these days?

In banking the IT departments have had to change enormously in recent years.  On top of the usual relentless advances in technology, security challenges have escalated, the war for talent has accelerated and regulation continues to evolve with the challenges. I believe that IT departments have had to adapt well to these changes. 

However, in most companies there is a lack of a truly customer centric design. Although there is some hype in the industry around service-oriented architecture (SOA), I believe that until budgets are allocated around customer processes rather than by functional units, systems will continue to be designed as applications for the department users rather than with the customer in mind. In addition, most companies fail to take usability seriously and have little concept of cross touchpoint consistency.

2. How do you measure ROI for IT? 

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Sharp Decline of The Indian Rupee Drives CIO Focus on Business Outcomes

On August 6, 2013, the Indian rupee plunged to a record low of INR61.80 to 1USD. In fact, since January 2013, the Indian rupee has depreciated by 10% against USD and is expected to slide further as India is challenged by political gridlock, serious infrastructure bottlenecks, and decreased investor confidence, all of which are contributing to a slowdown in economic growth. The declining rupee leads directly to increases in the cost of doing business, which has risen by 8-10% over the past year.

The difficult economic landscape has forced Indian firms to look for new and innovative ways to grow their businesses, create efficiencies, and improve responsiveness. This is driving changes in how Indian business leaders view technology – with many increasingly viewing technology as a far more critical means to differentiate their organizations and drive business growth. The pressure is now firmly on CIOs to deliver technology-led business outcomes for their organizations. To exploit this opportunity, CIOs should do the following:

Develop a ‘business outcomes’ matrix and map existing and planned technology projects against it to build credibility with business leaders: ROI templates are generally developed to gain approvals and are typically limited to cost savings, but very few CIOs actually link their IT spending to clearly defined business outcomes. Define what business outcome means to your organization (e.g., increase in sales, revenue, customer acquisition, customer satisfaction to name few) and map each of your projects against the matrix to prioritize those with greatest business outcomes. This will help CIOs win buy-in from business stakeholders on project funding and priorities, while ensuring that IT is viewed as an equal and capable business partner.

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