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The Biggest Decision CIOs have to make today: Reshoring vs Offshoring outsourcing.

29 Nov

Offshoring may not be the most beneficial option for CIOs when it comes to outsourcing. As I mentioned in my previous blog “Welcome to the age of Reshoring” outsourcing is becoming another vital decision that CIOs can be faced with.  William Floyd CTO, MB Trading has had mixed outcomes when it comes to outsourcing.  Over the last 20 years MB trading has been outsourcing to India-based companies but due to the long distance of India and its cultural differences has led to communication problems between teams effecting overall performance. As a result jobs that were once outsourced offshore are being reincorporated in-house.

“We are confident we can do much better than the outsourcing company, we also feel we can do this in-house at similar costs, due to the recession.” William Floyd CTO, MB Trading

Similarly for Richard Broome, CIO of Host Analytics location & distance played a major part in his decision whether to strategically outsource offshore or inshore. Initially Host Analytics a cloud based company outsourced its customer support to India. But it became apparent that there was a communication gap between offshore customer support and its customers, there was a lack of expertise. Broome came to realise that customers’ needs were not be met by outsourcing IT operations. A strategic decision to keep outsourcing in-house was a right decision for host analytics as it a skilled and experience workforce were able to understand the customer’s needs. (

Location was the difference between a nightmare and a dream-come-true outsourcing strategy.” Richard Broome CIO, Host Analytics

More recently Randy Mott CIO of general motors is withdrawing form it reliance on offshore outsourcing, but is reversing GM’s outsourcing strategy to an onshore one. It plans to double the in-house experts in the next 3 years but the big issue is maintaining efficiency without increasing costs. Will others follow suit at a detriment of IT service leaders like (HP, Dell, IBM) or is this just an unnecessary move that will be too costly to maintain?

“If you’re more efficient and you can go through the process more quickly, you have more time and more resources to be looking at innovations that provide a competitive advantage for the company,” Huston-Rough.

Employees at the Fiat and Guangzhou Automobile Group manufacturing plant in Changsha work on the production of Viaggio vehicles (BloomBerg Business Week)

Quick Recap…………

29 Nov


As the world of the blogosphere comes to close I will give a quick recap on what I covered in my previous blogs over the last month and a half. The topic that I covered along with my group of oconnormatty7, aherntim1 and bigjim123 was the “Role of the Chief Information Officer”. With countless articles, internet pages, newspapers and academic pieces read the role of the chief information officer has been covered in some depth.

It all started off with the history of the CIO and where the term originated and how it has progressed through the years to what it is today. Along with me, oconnormatty7 covered the history of the CIO but throughout the different eras such as the mainframe, distributed and web-based eras. Next I covered what it is that the CIO does in his/her job and what it boiled down to essentially was 4 key needs according to Michael Scheuerman, an independent consultant, and these 4 key areas where strategy, interpretation, communication and delivery.

The next step I took in looking at the CIO was a certain type of CIO and that position is the Global CIO. I took an in depth look into the role of Paul Burfitt who was the global CIO of a worldwide pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca. This blog highlighted the different aspects of the job on a global scale and one of the key points that he makes about the job is to prioritize and that as a global CIO one cannot be afraid to say no if a technology isn’t going to improve business or IS priorities.

I followed this blog up with the ‘The new threats facing a CIO’ and this is exactly what it says in the title and there are 4 key threats which I focused on and this areas were lack of vision, lack of leadership, trying to resist the social/mobile revolution and surrendering to the 80/20 budget trap.

After this I turned my attentions to ‘5 other strategic issues facing a CIO’ and this was after bigjim123 had already concentrated on the ‘the TOP 5 strategic issues facing a CIO in 2013’. bigjim123 had covered the issues of Simplify IT and Transform Your Spending: Kick the 80/20 Budget Habit, Lead the Social Revolution: Drive the Social-Enabled Enterprise, Embrace the Engagement Economy: Merge the Back Office and the Front Office into the Customer Office, Upgrade “Cloud Strategy” to “Business Transformation Enabled by the Cloud and Transform Big Data into Big Insights, Big Vision, and Big Opportunities. I followed up with another 5 issues facing the CIO and this gave a clear idea of what the CIO is facing in the next year let alone the next 5-10 years.

My 6th blog went with something different and which nobody else had covered before but it was the role of the virtual chief information officer and it is something that is probably not very common right at this present time but there are companies out there who hire out CIO’s to businesses and they essentially help free up time for the owners, CEO’s, CFO’s and prevents them from splitting their time between running the business and looking after the information technology issues as well.

Which leads lastly to my penultimate blog which was ‘the top 10 competencies of a CIO’ and with the diagram that was included it was a very concise explanation of what is required from a CIO and the core competencies for the role.

So with all that in mind and from all the research conducted by myself and many others the role of the Chief Information Officer has become that much clearer. It is evident that the role is an extremely high pressured position that is up there with the CEO and other level executives. The CIO must be dedicated, hardworking, have a great business mind and of course up to date with all that is going on in the technology world as to deliver the best advice to the business in order to provide value to the organisation.

Thanks to everyone for reading and the feedback, and I hope that through this you now know as much as I do about the CIO and are eager to learn more. Later ISBP……

ericlynch1 out.

A Final Word

28 Nov

A s a final word on my contribution to SoOpinionated, I shall briefly sum up some of the main points of the thread. Over the course of the last 6 weeks or so there has been a wealth of examinations on the subject of the role of CIO’s. This has inevitably led to constructive arguments and analytically orientated discussion over the debatable issues on the topic. What has been mostly agreed upon are some core roles and responsibilities of the respective post such as the development of ‘soft’ skills that are now crucial to the day to day skills of the CIO. Why has this happened though? As I covered in earlier posts the pertinence of developments in creating professional relationships with various stakeholders is now crucial. As well as this and on a par of importance many have documented the coming wave of enthusiasm regarding the CIO evolving into a strategic role involved at an executive level concerning the strategic direction of the particular firm. This also refers to the acceptance that the CIO has to be intrinsically involved in the implementation of large projects within the organisation that affect either IT or IS which more often than not do indeed have a telling contribution towards them. And as regards the future, I shall not be so bold to predict the exact environment that CIO’s will be adapting into like the academics Ross and Feeney attempted to and failed in but what is certain is that in a changing environment the CIO will once again adapt and fit its surroundings like it has done from the end of the mainframe era right up to the web based era throughout the distributed era. The future of the CIO will not be nailed down to one definition but rather be an evolving post to which will the business will use to its own advantage. Thanks for reading









CIOs in Ireland

28 Nov

Through-out the last few weeks we have all focused on the role of the CIO, with little mention of the Irish CIOs.

In line with most organisations worldwide, a survey conducted by Deloitte in 2012 found that only 31% of Irish CIOs are of the opinion that their organisation views IT as a value-adding partner. This figure is down 7% from 38% in 2011, which is quite alarming. A survey conducted also by Deloitte in 2011 found that organisations may have reached the bottom in terms of cutting expenditure in the IT department, with 45% saying they expected a decrease in IT expenditure in 2012. Interestingly in the 2012 survey 42% Irish CIOs were predicted they would see an increase in IT expenditure in 2013. Similarly a survey published by IDC in 2012 stated that they expect to see a slight increase in IT expenditure next year.

The priorities for Irish CIOs changed in 2011 from focusing on cost cutting in the IT department to compliance with 70% of CIOs stating they see an increase in regulatory requirements this year, with a future increase next year. However with an increase in workload, CIOs say that are struggling to meet deadlines. For example 60% of CIOs say their organisation launched a mobile app in 2012, with an increase of 20% from last year.

The IT sector in Ireland is going through a boom at present in terms of employment, something which all of us will rejoice about. In the Deloitte 2012, 44% of Irish CIOs said that they are currently recruiting for IT staff with 84% of Irish CIOs struggling to fill experienced and graduate position, something which will be sweet music to our ears.

Last month the Irish Times states that in the top 200 companies in Ireland, there are only 18 female CIOs (9%) while in Britain the figure is similar, with only 10% CIO positions held by women. When compared to a survey published by the Wall Street Journal in 2012, Ireland and Britain’s percentage of female CIOs is embarrassing. As the WSJ highlighted that in the Fortune 100 companies, there are 24 women (24%) employed as the

The video below is a summary of the Deloitte 2012 survey, which might be of interest to some.



Is the role of the CIO declining in importance?

26 Nov

In this blog I will be discussing the role of the CIO and the fact that it may be declining in importance. In years gone by the CIO controlled the companys destiny by implementing massive IT projects. people believed they led massive business change within organizations via the implementation of IT. It is however evident that that role of CIO is declining in importance. Unfortunately for many CIOs, those days are just fond memories of when they were trusted to transform organizations with massive IT implementation.

There are three forces of change challenging the authority, credibility and role of today’s CIO according to

  • Declining management influence stems from a drop in credibility and gains in consumer tech. “Many CIOs have lost control in guiding how technology is used in the enterprise because the world of consumer tech has out innovated enterprise class technologies.  For example, when corporate email goes down, frustrated employees get around IT via Gmail, YouSend It or Skype.”
  • Burdens of legacy technology place ball and chains on organizational agility. “At the same time, the technologies ushered in during the Y2K investment rush no longer meet the organization’s needs.  Despite vendor assurances, these systems are so rigid that any changes or customisations often creates costly scenarios that require IT to expend significant resources while impeding future upgrades.  It’s as if these systems were put in and concrete poured around it.  Systems must adapt to how people work.  Form must follow function.”
  • Pace of technology advancements outpaces ability to adopt. “Finally, organizations find the pace of advancement in technology to be outpacing an organization’s capability to make changes.   Just as users become comfortable, upgrades appear that change how users use the technology and regulations are enacted which negate the current system, all leaving companies and users behind as they struggle to keep up with the next advancement. “

“Today’s CIOs spend up to 70% of their IT budget and resources struggling to keep the lights on.  Instead of drowning under the three forces of change, CIOs must refocus their priorities and adopt a next generation point of view.  In a recent Constellation Research, Inc. as cited by, a survey of 83 global CIOs, 29 next generation CIOs identified seven fundamental shifts in thinking that helped transform their ability to succeed in the CIO role”.  These seven areas include according to

  1. Pace of change. “Assume that change will not only be a constant, but also accelerate over time.  Successful CIOs focus on delivering agility in business models and business processes.”
  2. Planning assumptions. “Expect today’s static planning to transform itself into iterative and collaborative approaches.  Three to five year plans can’t account for or incorporate the entry of disruptive technologies. Plans transform into living documents and business processes adopt agile methodologies.”
  3. Viability factors. “Realize that yesterday’s design points shift from amassing tremendous size and scale to crafting innovative and nimble approaches.  Size and scale no longer equate to viability.  Organizations require new business models to support flexibility and viability.”
  4. Success criteria.” Re-earn a seat at the board room table by focusing on business value and business impact.  Technology is an enabler, not the complete solution.  Successful projects can no longer be measured by whether or not the technology is adopted.”
  5. Change management.” Incorporate the latest techniques to improve user adoption and create sustaining change.  The human factor remains the hardest barrier to overcome.  Adoption of both traditional and disruptive technologies will require that CIOs elevate the priority of change management to an essential category.”
  6. Technology acquisition. “Consider new deployment options to reduce capital expenses.  Shift capex to opex.  As budgets shift to operating expenses, CIOs can free up capital for much needed optimization projects that can fund future innovation.”
  7. Innovation path. “Focus priorities on identifying areas to create disruptive business models and adopt emerging technologies.  Learn to fail fast and move on.  Iterative approaches no longer provide the key payback times required for competitive advantage.”

I believe that if CIO’s keep on top of these 7 shifts of change they can prove to be successful. The role overall is very challenging and is being more scrutinized since the days of CIO implementing massive IT projects within a company. The role clearly is important and necessary but as to whether it is declining I’m not sure. It would vary from company to company and the faith placed on the CIO from the fellow board of directors. Clearly there wouldn’t be as much faith in CIO’s working solo in implementing IT as the cost cutting measures are more severe these days and every expense is closely watched. Because of this I believe it has declined in responsibility more than anything not importance.


Top Ten Competencies of a CIO

26 Nov

In my last blog entry about the “Virtual CIO” I briefly mentioned how a company hiring a virtual CIO will choose the competencies it needs at the time to best suit the company. In previous blogs before this, it has been mentioned about the skills required to fulfil the role of a CIO but I am going to go into a bit more depth the competencies that I referred to. They can be broken down into 10 areas shown in the diagram below.

Starting with strategic planning at the top of the diagram, this revolves around making sure that the business strategy you have in line for the company goes hand in hand with introducing new technologies whilst ensuring that the already fundamental technological components remain in lock-step with the business initiative. Moving onto security next and this is a very important part of the circle as security is key to every organisation and it is vital that the correct  security policy controls are implemented and that the business processes and architectures follow the security policies which are put in place. Next up is capital planning and investment which basically means that the CIO must control and initiate capital planning and investment to manage the overall technology investment within the company.

Number four is leadership and management and is one of the essentials of a good CIO as they have to be able to have the right people around them in the work environment. They also help the company recognise where change may be necessary and this also requires them to be able to manage the business and technology practices and be able to bring them together. Technology Acquisition involves interacting with other business entities to approve vendor packages and other technologies that may need to be introduced into the company whilst also managing the risks involved in potential technology transition. Yet again this is another area which is crucial and that is Process Improvement. With technology advancing all the time and vendors always trying to introduce something new into a company the CIO needs to work with all the departments  necessary in an effort to update processes but also leading the way in promoting continued improvement. Working in conjunction with the 5th competency is Technology Assessment which requires a keen eye and being able to pinpoint areas for evaluation, replacement or process change having completed several and continued detailed assessments of the current business technologies.

Number eight on the list is Performance and Results-Based Management and this means that the CIO needs to be able to see areas to improve and clearly set out goals and measurements for improving the efficiency and before any investment is made in technology he/she will make recommendations to revise processes. The second last item on the list is Architectures and this is referring to the architecture of the technology and the CIO must establish an architecture policy to ensure smooth integration of new technology as the business needs grow. And lastly is Policy which can tie into security as well in terms of data protection and ensuring information technology governance across the business.

So these are some of the key competencies which a CIO requires to succeed in such a high pressured position. Any thoughts feel free to comment.

Who should the Chief Information Officer report to!

26 Nov

In this blog I hope to clarify who the CIO should have to report to. Or if indeed the CIO should be allowed to make his own decisions for the company in which he is employed by.

One of the main issues is if the board consider I.T. to be a priority for the company. If this is not the case then the CEO and the board will let the CIO be held responsible for all technological decisions for the firm. In this case a select few executives on the board is who the CIO will have to report  to. This is in the case of a company who would not deem technology important to the future of their company. However in the age in which we live in, the majority of companies know that in order to move forward in the 21st century information technology will play a vital role.

The CEO is one example of who the CIO could be answerable to. However this can have its problems. For instance if the CEO is running a large multinational company they probably would not have time to properly look over what technical improvements the CIO is making for the company. A CIO’s work needs to be really accurate, whether they are leading projects, making technological purchases for the company or updating old I.T. systems for the firm, this work needs to be done perfectly. If the CIO is trying to continuously rendezvous with a busy CEO this work will surely be affected in the long run. This could be due to the fact that the CEO will probably not have time to evaluate to detailed work the CIO has provided and hopes to move forward with. In this case it is probably best is the CIO is answerable to one to the executives on the board for the company.

However most CEO’s have got to where they are today by playing ball with all of the managerial positions. This would include the CIO. Many CEO are shrewd business men and like to be involved in all aspects of the company’s development. Therefore if they are used to working with the CIO before they got the position of CEO they probably will continue to work with the CIO. The CIO and the CEO would have developed a personal and working relationship.

The best and worst person a CIO must report to is a CEO. I believe that if the CEO has a genuine interest in technology then the CIO will move the company forward immensely.  However if the CEO does not show interest in technology it is likely the CIO will have to report to other members of the board on decision making. I believe that if a CIO is left to tend to his own work and not have to worry about someone looking over their shoulder and knows that he/she has the backing of the CEO to do so then the company the CIO works for will strive.



What next for the CIO?

26 Nov

So what does the future hold for the CIO? With the rise of cloud computing, IT budget cuts and accelerated integration of business units there has never been a more rumbustious time to be a CIO. The buzzword now in discussions around the modern day CIO is ‘collaboration’. While collaboration entails many different aspects, it primarily reflects the formation of a shared information base and collective intelligence. Cloud sourcing and social networks are the processes which enable such formations – and those are the processes where the CIO will need to make inroads.

The future role of the CIO will be a radical departure from the IT ‘techie’ obsessed position of old. Jim Stikeleather, CIO of Dell Services, brilliantly outlines this departure when he states, “As we shift from IT with a focus on productivity to business technology with a focus on collaboration; and as we shift from systems of record to systems of boundless collaboration backed by endless computational resources available to all, the future is here now” (2012).

Multidisciplinary skills are a must for budding CIOs – whereas flexibility was previously a handy attribute, it is now an essential requirement. These days Business technology is more commonly defined in terms of people and collaboration – not computers and automation. There is an argument indeed that the title of CIO should be altered to reflect this new realm. The term has been in use now for 30 years – a period of monumental transitions within IT – yet the title remains the same. It seems inevitable that a new term to define the modern CIO will emerge just as it did in the past – from ‘director of data processing’ in the 1950s to ‘director of management information systems’ in the 1970s.

As IT functions expand within a company so too does scrutiny. The traditional cycle of IT investment involves investing money in a given project with that project’s long-term outcome resulting in some sort of competitive advantage for the company. However with costs increasing and IT budgets being continually squeezed this traditional cycle of IT investment is more and more being deemed as unacceptable. Managing this will require smart coalition tactics and rational persuasion from the CIO.

Another key area for CIOs in the future is cloud computing. According to Jim Stikeleather the main advantages of cloud computing is:

–       The ability to build and deploy new business applications rapidly at low cost

–       The ability to implement new revenue-generating business models

It will be the CIO’s responsibility that such functions are executed “in a coherent and cohesive manner in the context of the entire enterprise” (Stikeleather, 2012). Therein ensuring that cloud computing is being used to its fullest potential is where the biggest challenge lies for the CIO.

Overall the future appears tumultuous but ultimately bright for the CIO. One has to be confident that the CIO can meet the challenges it currently faces head-on. We only need look at how the role of the CIO has evolved in the last 30 years to see that the position has always managed to remain critical and relevant. As Jim Stikeleather points out the CIO “has evolved from the custodian of the infrastructure under the CFO to a business leader with a seat at the executive table”. On that basis alone it will be fascinating to see how the CIO is perceived twenty years from now.


CIO’s and the cloud; Progress made but more still to be done

26 Nov

While most companies are still in the early stages of integrating cloud computing into their firm, according to a report by Navint Partners, LLC, the results finds large companies are seeing generally positive outputs from their cloud computing efforts. The consulting company convened a round table with 20 CIOs from Fortune 500 companies to discuss their results and possible concerns about cloud computing.

What they uncovered was quite positive in favour of the cloud. 90% of respondants revealed they have received 100% of the savings they expected from their cloud projects. Furthermore, 80% say their cloud efforts have helped their organizations achieve some sort of competitive advantage, and two-thirds say cloud has helped their organization’s efficiency and effectiveness. (1)

Whilst these reports are obviously quite positive, they are a little vague and the Navint report dug a bit further into CIOs’ heads to see where they see these benefits evolving. Robert Summers, CIO of tax preparation firm Jackson Hewitt, says that while the initial results have been positive, it is still very early to be judging the success of the cloud so far. “Many [executives and business managers] think it will take five or more years to fully realize the tangible benefits of cloud implementation.” (2)

Almost half of the organizations interviewed for the survey indicated they already have a designated budget for cloud computing. The majority cloud budgets then , are discretionary, and Summers states that “many organizations regard cloud expenses as research and development. Organizations are analyzing how the cloud demand differs across departments before appropriating fixed funding for long‐term contracts.” (3)

Another possibility is that cloud spending might be involved in business processes and not just IT. Indeed, many analysts, including Gartner, predict that soon, business units outside of IT will spend more on technology than IT itself, and cloud will be a big part of this. Nonetheless, companies do not see the cloud going away any time soon, indeed close to half of the CIOs contributing to the Navint report expect to boost their private cloud budgets by more than 20%.

Overall, Fortune 500 companies seem generally satisfied with cloud computing. There are some pressing issues though and one of the most pressing one is security. “Despite highly advanced security and fraud countermeasures employed by cloud vendors, CIOs and other executives regard security guarantees and redundancy policies with guarded pessimism.” (3) This worry is causing most companies to hold back on moving their most critical operations into the cloud. “The security seems to be there today; it will become less of an issue, but people want to see it,” as Summers put it.

Another concern for CIO’s seems to be that in general, cloud vendors offered very few options for firms and industries with peak business activity condensed into certain parts of the year. This is despite the apprent fact that the cloud seems ideally suited for this kind of activity. Jackson Hewitt’s Summers, found that  “None of the major players [we] spoke to had a pay‐as‐you‐go option,” (4) he says. “All the agreements were about the same: you pay a standard amount for the entire year, and the provider agrees to handle some spikes in usage as percentage of the base. We needed a more custom arrangement.”

This last line rings out the loudest. Cloud companies need to be more facilitating of firms in order to fully utilise the cloud. A greater understanding between CIO’s and cloud companies is necessary for further cloud expansion.

(1)  So far so good: Fortune 500 CIOs Seem Happy With Cloud Computing

(2) ibid

(3) ibid

(4) ibid

The future of the CIO

26 Nov

For almost as long as there have been CIOs, there has been speculation about whether or not the position will last, and if so, in what form. This speculation is continuing today. Will new technology trends such as the cloud signal the end of the role of the CIO, or will the role just continue to evolve as it has done in previous decades?

Frederick Schukken, (Senior Consultant Quint Wellington Redwood), believes that with the new generation who grew up with IT, becoming managers, the role of the CIO will no longer be of as much importance and could disappear (  Similarly, as previously mentioned in one of my other blogs, “a survey undertaken (2012) by IT specialist Getronics and Consultancy Loudhouse, consisting of 203 key financial decision-makers, showed that the CFO’s role in technology decision-making increased in the past year.  It also suggested that 43 per cent of CFOs believe the IT leadership role will inevitably merge with the top finance position” (

However, from my research over the past six weeks into the role of the CIO, I do not believe that the position is declining in importance. In fact I believe it is becoming more critical. The reason for this is because of the amount of changes in companies and in technology today. There is greater complexity in business today, and with that there is more data. Someone needs to be able to look at the whole environment from a-z and that person is the CIO. They are the only person able to do this. Executives in marketing/finance/sales etc are only responsible for their individual sections, but the CIO is responsible for all systems and functions that support all sections and areas of the company. Their job makes sure that the rest of the sections are able to function. The CIO is the only person who has the capacity to impact all areas and the only person able to work with all functions and sections of the business. They can look at everything that goes on in a company. “Technology touches some part of nearly every product or service pulsing through the economy, weaving the industrialized and developing worlds together as never before. Without IT, business dies. CIOs are not going away”. (

Although many articles and blogs will state that the role of the CIO will have disappeared in the next decade, or will decline in importance, the people who do not believe this are the CIO’s themselves. Perhaps this is because they are the only people who truly understand the job and the extent of what they have to do, and so if they are not worried, I would trust that.

Frank Modruson (CIO of Accenture) stated in 2011 (Computer Scope Magazine) that he does not see the role of the CIO disappearing. He believes that since its emergence, the role has been continuously changing and evolving and will continue to do so. He states that the organisations of the future are going to be much less visibly structured, and this will increase the “reach and responsibility of the CIO, with serious challenges at the infrastructure level that can be obscured by the speed of change in devices and tools.” Overall, he believes that the “challenges to the CIO are hard and getting harder- which in the end is what will keep the role front and centre in the organisation”.

Karen Forte (CIO of Allianz) is another CIO who is not worried about her job disappearing in the future as she does not believe that threats to the CIO role are really a ‘danger’. She says that CIO’s t is poised to be agile but necessarily cautious in a regulated sector. “The job of the CIO is to make choices, design the architecture and manage the changing technologies to overcome the dangers and constraints”(Computer Scope Magazine, June 2011).

Connor O Brien (CIO of Capita Asset Services) agreed that some aspects of the job have become easier to manage, while others have become bigger challenges, but then that’s the job! He does not believe that it will disappear.

Finally, Dave Weick (CIO of McDonalds) is confident that for the top CIO’s, new technologies such as the cloud, big data and BYOD, will not alter their role in companies. These CIO’s already “know that their job is to manage change, not technology; to set strategy, not server thresholds”. (

Overall, over the past number of weeks and during my research for all of my blogs, I have come to the conclusion that the role of the CIO is not declining in importance and it will not disappear or merge with any other role in the near future. It will continue to evolve as it has done since its introduction into the business world. It is a crucial role in every business and I believe it will continue to grow in importance in the coming years.

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