Q&A: Microsoft’s Murat Ozturan on Innovation
Murat Ozturan began his career in technology as a programmer a quarter-century ago, first in the automotive industry, then banking. After a few years, he moved to Microsoft which took him first to Washington state and now to Singapore, where he is CTO of Microsoft Services for Asia Pacific and Japan.
At the Transform to Better Perform CIO Roundtable in Singapore, he spoke strongly about how IT has changed. We caught up with him afterward to get his views on how to enhance IT’s performance on innovation and transformation.
I think the challenge that IT faces, and the only way to overcome that challenge, is to be able to slowly free yourself from those legacy systems and move to a new technology that enables you to take you away from plumbing and infrastructure stuff, but concentrate much more on business innovations.
Transform: From the IT perspective, what are the roadblocks to business innovation? And what can be done to remove them?
Ozturan: One of the biggest challenges in today's IT is basically the legacy systems, and unfortunately, our big investments and commitment to the legacy systems. I think the challenge that IT faces, and the only way to overcome that challenge, is to be able to slowly free yourself from those legacy systems and move to a new technology that enables you to take you away from plumbing and infrastructure stuff, but concentrate much more on business innovations.
Transform: Should the IT team be brought in before, during or after business leaders choose a new technology?
Ozturan: Obviously, IT needs to be at the table from the beginning because it provides more wisdom to the business leaders who make the decisions, not only [sharing] IT perspective but by becoming facilitators of the decisions. Unfortunately, as I explained in the first question, IT organizations have become much more of a hindrance to innovation than actually enabling the innovation. Business leaders have decided to go and make their own decisions about the technology. That actually creates a bigger problem for IT because it creates more complex environments that are difficult to manage afterward.
Transform: Do you believe IT has the financial resources and skill sets needed to support the kind of innovation that leads to a true transformation?
Ozturan: This is about the chicken and the egg. IT leaders have to show the business value to be able to ask for additional budget. It’s as if you want to sell a very nice, modern $1 million apartment, and the only feature that you talk about is the running water. I come from financial background and if the CIO tells me is that they ensure secure transactions, I would say, "Well, that’s given." It's same as running water in a modern house. If you don't have it, it's a big problem, but you're not going to get credit for just doing secure transactions. IT needs to change and start talking about the business value they're bringing in. Then they can ask for more budget.
Transform: From the IT viewpoint, what metrics, if any, should companies use to evaluate the business contributions of the IT team?
Ozturan: They should view the business value, above and beyond the existing systems. What did IT do to create more customers, better service, cheaper service for the business? IT needs to be very careful while they're protecting their existing legacy environment that the carpet isn’t being pulled under them. People have started moving away from IT decision-making to a much more business-oriented decision-making. If IT doesn't change its approach and make sure that they're business enablers, and they are next to the leaders when they are making those business decisions, they are going to lose more power unfortunately.
Transform: CIOs are smart folks who love to work with technology. What advice would you offer to CIOs who wants to enhance the level of innovation?
Ozturan: I think they need to separate their organizations – a little bit on maintenance and maintaining their existing environment, and then a growing but small group concentrating on the innovation. I always hear from IT organizations that all business is highly-regulated, or it's too sensitive to be put in the cloud or other type of infrastructures. Well, let's concentrate on the ones that we can. Our research shows that approximately 40 percent of the data in a bank is regulated. The other 60 percent is not. There are creative ways of utilizing cloud services without really breaking down any of the rules and regulations there. So, it's very important to start off-loading that expensive legacy maintenance environments, and go to a much more agile and flexible environment where you can really concentrate on the business innovation I'm talking about.
Microsoft Services Asia Pacific & Japan
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