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Neelie Kroes

Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Digital Agenda

Chef Information Officers: a driving force behind the Digital Agenda

European CIO of the Year awards

Brussels, 25 March 2011

Good morning everybody.

I want to start with thanks to CIO-net, INSEAD and all the nominees. I can't help but note that six of the 15 nominees are women (and three of them Dutch!) With the International Women's day fresh in our minds this is truly good news. I consider it as evidence of the great things that can happen when the sector is open to all the talent in our society.

But this event today is not about gender, it’s about outstanding achievement across Europe. Looking across the room, and scrolling through the list of nominees, I see huge amount of talent and potential.

ICT is now a policy and business issue for everyone. But you remain the most important voices at the boardroom table, and your strategic role is growing. As representatives of the buyers and implementers of ICT, you are also an important driving force behind the Digital Agenda.

Your procurement choices matter. Your purchasing power and knowledge, for example, can be the difference between competitive and uncompetitive markets. I am thinking, for instance, of using your knowledge to help avoid lock-in and embrace more open solutions.

But you also possess the most hands-on knowledge on ICT implementation, which of course is often where the true difficulties occur. And you no doubt have some experience of the complexity and compliance costs of dealing with multiple regimes in Europe. I mean in terms of privacy, interoperability, cloud computing, security, licensing, and so on.

If you share those experiences with me – I promise to take that feedback seriously into our policy process to reduce your administrative burdens. No one, least of all me, wants you to deal with the hassle of 27 different compliance regimes. So let’s be advocates – together - for an EU-wide Digital Single Market.

That, by the way, applies to both the public and private sector. Public CIOs are a relatively new phenomenon in most European countries. But I am convinced that those of you holding such positions will be the drivers of deep organisational change in our public sectors. You will lead the development and take up of shared services; you will provide the examples of smart procurement. And your efforts will ultimately determine the next generations of eGovernment services.

Let's take the example of United States CIO Vivek Kundra. He has pledged to move at least of a quarter of annual public IT spending into the Cloud. This will shift the market. Concerted efforts in the EU can do the same, following our own priorities in Europe, be it on privacy, security, or green ICT.

I think the value of private sector CIOs has been well covered before. The main thing I want to add is that your views and experience matter more than you may think. They affect the world outside your companies and organisations, and I certainly want to keep a dialogue open - so that we can make the most of your successes.

Let me encourage you to push ahead with user-led initiatives. Interoperability specifications in procurement and related contractual obligations could be an example. I say that because the Digital Agenda isn’t something we do from above in Brussels. It’s about creating the space for people to take action at all levels; in order to reduce costs and enhance opportunities for better businesses and individual empowerment.

This brings me to today’s prizes. Someone decided to triple the fun, and offer three prizes. I think that's a great way to express the diversity of styles and interests that CIOs can represent. The prizes will be awarded to those with the best focus on the technology, the business processes and the clients. And together the different prizes showcase the different kinds of business value a CIO can bring to the table.

In fact the most interesting trend is just how much time CIOs now spend on tasks other than managing ICT services. Your strategic role in wider business processes is clearly growing – and that is something the whole business world needs to understand and respect.

From reading the profiles of the nominees, I can tell also that it was a tough choice narrowing the winners down to three.

The first winner – for Client-Driven CIO of the Year - is Pascale Avargues, Directrice Organisation et Informatique for the Mairie de Bordeaux

Pascale is the driving force behind the public-facing ‘Bordeaux Digital City’ programme, and the internal ‘E-administration' system. It seems that nothing is 'off limits' for Pascale – and that is my definition of an innovator! She delivered a 22% increase in the use of e-services in Bordeaux last year. Whether it is digital whiteboards, or green ICT or accessing vital records online – Pascale has it covered!

Our second laureate – for Business-process driven CIO - is Daniel Lebeau, Vice President for Management and Information Systems at GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals. Daniel helps to deliver the vaccines that keep much of the world safe and healthy. And he is proof of the point that CIOs are about much more than running ICT services. Just 12 of his team of 100 are engaged as a traditional IT team, and Daniel himself comes from a nuclear physics background. He's a guy who 'gets' emotional intelligence and it shows – his costs are much lower than his competitors, even when using the same software.

And last, but not least, Marcello Cordioli, Chief Information Officer at Permasteelisa is Technology-driven CIO of the Year.

When you see one of those exciting new buildings – the ones that are extremely tall or with incredible angles and shapes … chances are Permasteelisa is the mastermind of those exteriors. And Marcello is the mastermind this global information operation. I am told you will rarely find him at his desk. He's either putting services on the cloud - or flying through them - to meet his clients' needs.

I would like to congratulate all three laureates, as well as the nominees and express the wish that you continue your important work and be the best possible advocates for the Digital Agenda. I am looking forward to cooperating with you!

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