Celebrating Kenya's ICT excellence


Image: Harry Hare, the man behind Kenya's CIO 100 awards. By CIO 100
Harry Hare, the man behind Kenya's CIO 100 awards

Calls for applicants for the 2011 CIO 100 Awards were announced in early June. CIO 100 Awards celebrates 100 organizations (and the people within them) that are using information technology in innovative ways to deliver business value, whether by creating competitive advantage, optimizing business processes, enabling growth or improving relationships with customers. CAROLE KIMUTAI spoke to the man behind the awards, Harry Hare.   

Carole: What impact has the CIO 100 had on the business environment in Kenya?
Harry: CIO 100 has helped CIOs and IT Business leaders examine and recognise the impact technology has in their organisations contributing to efficiency, enhanced performance and a positive bottom line. Organisations are now looking for continuous business transformation and technology innovation that can deliver lasting value, attract new customers and propel the enterprise towards a more profitable future. That is the impact CIO 100 has catalysed.

Carole: To be selected, you say companies/individuals must demonstrate excellence in technology innovation and bushiness value delivery. Why these two specific areas?
Harry: We only have one specific area that we concentrate on which is Technology innovation that delivers business value. CIO 100 Awards are awarded to companies that show this business value, that demonstrate excellence the use and adoption of technology. And this can be through creating a competitive advantage, optimizing business processes, enabling growth and/or improving relations with both internal and external customers. Also we concentrate on technology innovation because it is one of the areas that companies/individuals are rarely recognized for in the business world. Technology has come a long way in the growth of businesses and society as a whole.

Carole: What calibre of organization is the Awards open to?
Harry: A CIO 100 award is an acknowledged mark of enterprise excellence. The calibre of organisations cuts across the board from private sector, NGO, educational institutions and government agencies, both small and large.

Carole: What were the learnings from the 2010 Award?
Harry: One of interesting learnings is that there is a lot of excellent technology innovations that Organisations are using that have gone unrecognised. The CIO 100 Symposium and Awards 2010 gave these organisations and business leaders an opportunity to share this with their peers through the presentations at the two day Symposium and crowned this with an Awards  Gala Dinner on the last day of the Symposium. We also leaned that organisations have stepped up their utilisation and that technology is now a strategic addition in most companies. Companies are spending millions of shillings to acquire technology solutions which they hope will give them that strategic advantage over competition.

Carole: What are the challenges Kenyan companies face in the area of IT?
Harry: Successful implementation of IT projects is the biggest challenge, the result is most projects end up either going either over budget, are poorly implemented or incomplete. But this is not a Kenyan or East African thing. Global research indicates that 90 percent of IT projects that fail or do not deliver value, do so because of project mismanagement and not technology. That is why you find that big organisations are now establishing Project Management Offices (PMO) to handle all projects including IT.

Carole: Five years down the line, what do you want to achieve with the CIO Awards?
Harry: We would like the CIO Awards to bring out the relevance of IT in a business environment and bring the impact technology has in organisations thus contributing to efficiency, enhanced performance and a positive bottom line. CIO Awards five years down the line will also spread geographically by more East and Central African Countries participating and eventually a few more years down to become a premier African event.
We need to identify, profile and recognise those organisations (and the people behind them) that are using technology strategically and effectively so that others can see and emulate. We want to create a competitive environment which will see better use of technology in the region.

Carole: How is the response by Kenyan companies?
Harry: The response in Kenya is very positive and encouraging. So far we have over 123 organisations in the East African region (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda) having participated in the ongoing survey.

Carole: How many applications are you expecting this year?
Harry: We expect about 1000 applications from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.

Carole: There are many excellence awards in Kenya. What makes CIO Awards unique and worth participating in?
Harry: The intense focus on productive, sustainable growth in Organisations  is what shapes the  CIO 100 Awards into an extraordinary forum for pragmatic ideas and inventive approaches to the business of ongoing innovation for CIOs and and IT Business Leader. The CIO 100 Awards celebrate 100 organisations (and the people within them) who have used information technology in innovative ways to deliver business value, whether by creating competitive advantage, optimizing business processes, enabling growth or improving relationships with customers. We believe no other Excellence Awards in the region draw this unique focus in the business environment.

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