Careers: Interviews
Martin Slofstra, Editorial Director, IT Business group: The Changing Role of the CIO

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P. has an exclusive interview with Martin Slofstra.

Martin Slofstra Martin Slofstra is editorial director of the IT Business Group at Transcontinental Media, Canada's largest publisher of information technology-related newspapers and magazines. Titles include Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Communications and Networking, Direction Informatique, EDGE magazine, Technology in Government, and, a daily news web site.

He has 20 years experience covering the IT industry in Canada, graduating with an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario in London in 1982, and starting with Northern Telecom as a corporate writer in that same year. He joined Computing Canada as staff writer in 1985. He's also served as Communications Editor and Editor of that magazine. In 1997, he helped launched and became editor of InfoSystems Executive (now called EDGE), Canada's first technology magazine for business executives.

Mr. Slofstra regularly moderates panels and makes presentations at trade shows and conferences and other industry events.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

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The latest blog on the interview can be found January 19, 2007 in the Canadian IT Managers (CIM) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

00:027: Martin Slofstra talks about some of the longterm ramifications of the continuing shift in the role of the CIO in business. With more involvement in business strategy and in discussions with senior executives, CIOs are delegating more of the technical aspects to other members of their team.
"So one of their (CIO) jobs is to build a technology roadmap, and looking 1, 2 to 5 years into the future. But how do you do that when you are not as close to the technology as you want to be? CIO's still need to be on top of technology."

02:37: Martin comments on, (in his discussions with CIO's), whether infrastructure is getting the same attention as before.
"Some of the old issues are going away but there are new infrastructure issues which are coming along as well, so CIO's have to be concerned about those things. So it is still a complicated part of their job."

04:28: Martin discusses the shifts in the way companies manage IT function.
"One of the big buzzwords these days is software as a service, so there is more of a tendency to use outside suppliers. That is one possibility. At the same time, some companies still like to keep things in control through their IT departments. So there is no single rule...."

06:57: Martin talks about skills shortage in IT.
"....The skills shortage is very real. I talked with three CIOs this week alone and each of the three identified the skills shortage as their biggest short term problem going into 2007....Those stories you are reading about skills shortages...there's alot behind that and CIOs are experiencing that."

07:14: Martin comments on the alignment of the IT skills shortage to a skills gap especially in some segments.
"...There's always been a shortage of good business and IT skills. But also just technically speaking, such net developers...web applications. Very specific technical skills are going begging as well. Five years ago you would have seen alot of shortages in the areas of Y2K and more infrastructure, but now it's really in the area of developing systems, application development, programming and internet web based development. There's quite a long list of technical skills that are going begging as well."

08:50: Martin speaks abouts the impact of retirement (especially those with 20+ years experience) on the IT skills shortage and the effects it will have on the CIO's ability to execute business strategies. He also talks about the global effect.
"They (CIO) won't be able to execute business strategies. You have a CIO who goes out to talk with other senior executives to see where the business is going and sees some great customer application. But it all becomes a moot point because if they don't have the technical skills to deliver those business strategies, you're just not going to go anywhere. "

10:21: Martin chooses some of the tops trends of 2007.
"There are certain technologies which are definitely hot right now. On that list I would include virtualization....web 2.0 is a hot topic...collaborative technology...voice over as a service..."

11:53: Martin talks about where he'd like to go in terms of his publication....including continuing to explore the pull of the CIOs in two directions.
"As much as they would like to become part of the executive team, there are still those nagging day to day IT concerns about running an IT department. If you are going to lose your top talent, that becomes your top priority. I think CIOs this year look like they are being caught between a rock and a hard place."

13:39: To find out more about Martin Slofstra's thoughts and insights:
  • Check out Martin Slofstra's blog called EDGEucation where he tries to comment every business day "
  • Edge magazine - will come out seven times this year.
  • His involvement in the CIO Association of Canada
  • He attends all CIO conferences....(including CIPS).


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