Altron’s Debra Marais joins the 2023 CIO Awards nominees list


Altron’s group CIO is in the running for the CIO of the Year award on 15 November.

“I am truly passionate about the power of technology in driving business success,” she says. “Over the years, I have witnessed how innovative technological solutions have revolutionised industries, enabling businesses to thrive in the digital age. This passion drives me to constantly stay up to date with the latest trends and advancements in technology, ensuring that I can effectively leverage its power to propel businesses forward.”

Debra is the managing director of Altron’s managed solutions and the group CIO. She joined Altron in 2006 as group information manager and rose through the ranks to become the company’s group CIO after 17 years with the IT services firm.

Debra is an active member of the CIO South Africa community, and recently spoke at CIO Day about how IT teams are integrating evolving AI. Altron is in the process of updating its sales CRM system, and it is analysing its present sales process and evaluating future CRM solutions with generative AI.

However, they were astonished to discover that their perception of the sales process and the statistics/data didn’t match. As a result, questions about their comprehension of their business processes and data were raised.

“That was a really good mirror moment,” said Debra. Now, it’s a question of whether the business is ready for the culture shift required for using a generative AI tool in building a new sales CRM system going forward, something they are still debating.

“I learnt that using the tool even just to discover where our weaknesses were, has probably been the greatest benefit to us, putting us in a better position in terms of where we’re at and what we’re doing,” said Debra. “Should we choose to use it, the capability of the AI tool, which we can tweak to meet our needs, is huge.”

Debra is a chartered accountant by training, with a BCom in accounting from Nelson Mandela University and a BCompt degree from the University of South Africa (Unisa).

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