‘Every business in NZ needs world class IT’ – Winston Fong

Published on the 20/03/2017 | Written by Donovan Jackson

CIO awards_Winston Fong

Being competitive in NZ means being competitive anywhere…

One of New Zealand’s high flyers in the IT industry, Winston Fong has, after being named CIO of the Year in 2016, said that world class IT is today a prerequisite for every business looking to maintain its competitiveness.

Fong is in the process of transitioning to a new position within Fisher & Paykel Healthcare which will see him taking on the role of Vice President of Surgical Technologies. iStart caught up with Fong to find out what winning CIO of the Year meant for him and what the near future holds for him.

“Personally, I suppose, [winning] is quite rewarding as it is an affirmation of what you’re trying to do for the organisation you serve. It’s all about the outcomes, the benefits the IT function delivers because of the actions of the team,” he said.

Fong said CIO of the Year was a way of ‘calibrating against world class in technology’. “It’s an assessment of the services we provide, the customer service we deliver and the levels of capability which are being achieved. And it is a bit of a pat on the back that we’re doing the right thing,” he laughed.

On a more serious note, Fong said that to be competitive, whether domestically or further afield, New Zealand businesses can be nothing less than world class; thanks to IT itself, the geographical position of the country which can be either the ‘tyranny of isolation’ or ‘the golden goose of a captive market’ simply no longer applies. “These days, no matter the line of business you are in IT is part and parcel of that. To be competitive your IT systems and functions must enable the organisation to go up against the best in the world or you’re just not good enough.”

Just as important, added Fong, was alignment between line-of-business and IT. “Without that, you’re unlikely to be successful in IT or indeed as a business.”

As he leaves his role of VP ICT on a high and goes into Surgical Technologies, our burning question was whether IT specifically would be put to work in the surgical space. Not really, said Fong. “This part of the business is providing solutions to improve care and outcomes of patients in the operating room, but we will maintain our investment in Health Informatics across other parts of the organisation. [The role] includes responsibility for anything from R&D, to manufacturing, to operations, and the clinical, marketing and sales side of things,” he explained.

“There may be a future component of ICT being applied with additional informatics, patient management and engagement systems and there has always been a degree of involvement of IT and digital technologies. But in the short term, ICT is not a primary focus across Surgical Technologies.”

But Fong was quick to add, given the transversal nature of IT, that it is increasingly likely to be a ‘feeder’ into other career directions. “IT is a fantastic space to be working in; you need to be so involved in all aspects of the value stream that it does and will probably more frequently transition to other roles,” he said.

What excites him about the new role, said Fong, was the ability to make a difference. “As a business, we do amazing things particularly in terms of helping to improve care and outcomes for people across the world. Playing a direct part in that comes with a huge degree of satisfaction. I’m looking forward to getting closer to that by understanding the therapies and products and how they can change and improve clinical practice to achieve better outcomes for more people than ever.”

Entries are open for the 2017 CIO of the Year, a category of the CIO Awards which will take place on 14 June 2017 at the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland.

Conferenz CIO summit June 2017

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