The perfect pitch 


CIOs answered questions on ChatGPT, vendors and the reporting structure, while partners delivered flawless pitches.

In September, CIO SA hosted a remarkable Pitch Parade filled with top-tier IT leaders and industry experts who had four minutes to impress a packed venue with their solutions at Level Three in Sandton. 

Nicholas Goliath, one of the Goliath and Goliath trio, and a well-known stand-up comedian, was the MC.

With beautiful ambience created by the stage lighting and warm energy, Nicholas introduced Nomahlubi Sonjica, community manager of CIO South Africa, who took to the stage to explain how the interactive evening would work.

During the pitches, Mpho Matsitse, executive of digital transformation consulting at BCX hit the stage. He took the opportunity to boast about BCX Systems seen at Engen garages and Dis-chem dispensaries.

He said BCX aims to improve intimacy and alignment in businesses as many companies move digitally following the pandemic. He convinced attendees that it was important to have CIOs at the table when deciding on the next step for companies.  

He added that BCX had the ability to help businesses align with what their customers want in an ever-changing world: “In order to have a faster and a more strategic business we need to understand intimacy and alignment in our strategies,” he said.

Ryan George, an accounting executive at SAS took the opportunity to highlight that the company has 45 years’ experience and 25 percent of investments in research and development, which drives the company’s main analysis business.

“We play in every market, from government, to banking and everything in between. In South Africa, specifically, we have a lot of insurance companies that we deal with: we deal with a lot of fintechs in South Africa and in Africa. We have a solution for every platform because of our ability to evolve and we help you grow your business in the energy space,” he said.

Abhay Badge, Africa sales head at Perpetuuiti was next. He bragged about the company’s ability to be cyber resilient in digital transformation. “Digital transformation is intensifying with increasing complexity: it’s more than any one person can address,” he said. He said the company was able to help customers address these problems that can occur as many companies transform digitally, without disrupting or losing out on the daily work. 

“True resilience is having that complete control and assurance resilience with the intelligence of a data-driven approach for real-time impact and decision-making. Perpetuuiti is a holistic software framework for resilience.”

The CIO South Africa team used the presentation platform mentimeter to put together a few questions on artificial intelligence’s most burning topics, including the rise of ChatGPT and the smart use of AI in businesses.

The mentimeter –  an app used to create presentations with real-time feedback, enabled voters to choose the most appropriate answer using their cellphones. 

The quiz questions that followed, examined how the attendees use ChatGPT, with many guests admitting they use the app mostly at work.

Twenty-three percent of those who voted said they use ChatGPT for work, 15 percent said they use it personally, 10 percent said they use it mainly for work, and the rest of the attendees said they use it everyday.

The second part of the quiz asked voters to compare how their companies compare to others in their use of their smart use of AI, 23 percent  highlighted that many companies were falling behind in their use of AI, but 18 percent of the guests admitted that their companies were on the middle ground.

Only eight percent voted that their companies had not considered the use of AI in their business. Ten percent said their companies were better than others, with only six percent voting that their companies were ahead of the rest.

The second part of the quiz delved deeper into company dynamics and the majority voted that the voice of IT was indeed on the rise in the boardroom. Others voted that it was consistent and only three percent said it was getting weaker.

Another question in the boardroom was on how the CIO’s voice is heard when discussing issues affecting the company. The majority of attendees ranked IT as number one, followed by business strategies, a crisis, budget and financials. They ranked people issues fifth.

The last theme of the quiz sought to find out how companies choose their vendors and what their choices are based on. The majority of the voters said global best practices, price and relationship were the top three. A minority of the voters said customisability and local customer care were what they based their choice of vendors on, placing them on level four and five.

Nomahlubi invited Josh Souchon, CIO at Sasfin Bank, Faith Burn, CIO at Eskom, and Nikos Angelopoulos, group CIO at MTN, to explain the results.

Nikos said that in the last 20 years the role has become increasingly important and has become more strategic. He added that the voice of CIO has been growing in the industry, with many CIOs getting seats in the boardroom. 

“The last 20 to 30 years have been playing an increasingly important role and it seems the most exciting as well. We are beginning to see a momentum  of people with a technological background becoming board members,” he said.

Josh added that companies need to ensure that they have a CIO’s voice in their boardrooms to advise on the future of the company. “The future is about technology. And if [companies] are not reflecting this at board level they will have a serious problem,” he said.

He said he was concerned that the South African market was not seeing the importance of CIOs as yet. “ I am worried that I think this is the CIO view – to have more CIOs on the board – as opposed to the board’s true construct within the South African market. So that’s something we need to address,” he said.

Faith said Eskom has come to realise that the company’s four disruptors – decarbonisation, decentralisation, democratisation of data , and digitalisation – needed technology to move ahead.

“We have been telling them that you can’t decarbonise, democratise, decentralise without digitalisation. The growth of AI helps the team with realising that technology is evolving,” she said.

All the CIOs on stage agreed that IT has a voice when discussing affairs affecting the company. Nikos said because IT is part of value creation, and part of delivering value, it is always included as the fixer in a crisis.

Tackling what influences companies to choose their next IT investments, many of the guests, using mentimeter’s word cloud, chose sustainability as the number one factor. 

At the end, guests were led into the bar area for a round of drinks and more networking, rounding off a valuable, enjoyable, thought-provoking evening.

Related articles

How and where will the future CIO work?

What is the workforce of the future? Who will be doing the work? And where will you be doing work? During a discussion with Eskom CIO Faith Burn at the 2024 CIO Day, Investec CIO Shabhana Thaver discussed the role of IT in shaping future work.

Warren Hero joins SARS as new CDO

The 2023 CIO Awards winner will be responsible for designing the South African Revenue Services’ business model for antifragile digital transformation.