High-profile former First National Bank chief information officer Mike Jarvis, who led a dramatic modernisation of the bank’s IT systems and who left SA in 2000 to return to his native Britain, has returned to the country.
Jarvis has established a new business with former Symantec regional director for Africa Patrick Evans. Called OverSight Solutions, the company has been created to assist companies with improving their IT governance, which Jarvis believes is an area of governance that is often neglected.
The idea for the business came to Jarvis following a discussion with Mervyn King, the man behind the King codes of corporate governance.
Jarvis says there is a clear disconnect between IT management and boards of directors because often the two sides don’t understand each other’s roles. “When directors are going through their formative years, they go through accounting, engineering and research, but very few of them go through IT,” he says. “When you look at IT people, most of them haven’t done anything other than IT. So, it’s not surprising that there’s a gap and they can’t talk to each other.”
Often, company directors are unable to govern IT, not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t know how to. “They don’t know which questions to ask. When they do, CIOs don’t know how to answer them in business terms,” he says.
Jarvis set up OverSight with Evans, who he says had the same approach and style to business and the same desire to advise and guide directors and CIOs on how to maximise the value they can get from IT. The new company’s board is chaired by another IT management heavyweight, Ken Jarvis (no relation), who has previously served as CIO for the SA Revenue Service, MultiChoice, Naspers, Anglo Platinum and Momentum Life.
“Our business gives advice and guidance to board directors and CIOs,” Jarvis says. “It starts off with awareness, then goes on to assessment, assurance, research and reporting. We also help CIOs report sensibly to boards.”
The founders have set up another company, called OverSight Services, which Jarvis explains is there to implement the recommendations made by OverSight Solutions.
“Often consultants can come in, offer advice and bugger off and see nothing of what happens on the ground,” he says. “The services business allows us to commit to make sure the advice we are giving is valued and implemented.”
OverSight’s main focus areas are banking, telecommunications, media and the hotel and leisure sectors. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media