Daniel Lai believes he has the credentials for the post Hong Kong Computer Society president Daniel Lai is tossing his hat into the ring as a candidate for the post of government chief information officer (CIO). The veteran information technology executive, who is also head of IT for the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC), said that he possessed the qualifications required for the new government position to lead Hong Kong's IT development initiatives. He revealed his interest days after the South China Morning Post reported industry doubts as to whether a suitable local candidate could be found. The government intends to complete its search and name the CIO this year. 'I am definitely interested in taking on the role of Hong Kong CIO,' said Mr Lai. 'I feel that this is a job where I can contribute more to the development and promotion of IT in Hong Kong.' Under the 2004 Digital 21 Strategy, the government CIO will head a new agency formed from the merger of the Information Technology Services Department and the IT-related divisions of the communications and technology branch of the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau. The merger is expected to be completed by July 1. A spokesperson for the communications and technology branch said the new CIO would be recruited as soon as possible. The move is subject to the merger plan and CIO post being approved by the finance committee of the Legislative Council. 'Our plan is to recruit the CIO through an open process, where candidates from within the government, locally and overseas, will be considered on their merits,' the spokesperson said. 'We have not yet engaged a search firm.' Mr Lai said that the CIO should have extensive experience in managing IT organisations and a deep knowledge of the Hong Kong and mainland technology sectors, as well as the respect of peers in the global IT industry. 'I have spent my whole professional career in IT and this experience has given me the focus which all CIOs must have: to do more with less,' said Mr Lai. With more than 30 years' experience in the IT industry, Mr Lai has worked in various technology- related roles including research, development, quality assurance, technical support, operations, IT services and training. A computing and management graduate of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University with a master's degree in technology management from Australia's Griffith University, Mr Lai was the Hong Kong Jockey Club's acting director of IT from September 1997 to July 1998. He joined the MTRC in 1999 and has since been responsible for the IT direction of the government-backed company. He suggested that Hong Kong implement a collegial approach to the CIO institution, instead of establishing a 'super CIO' at the centre of all government IT programs, similar to those the governments of Canada, the United States and Britain had adopted. 'Several assistant CIO positions could be created to support clusters of departments with closely related business functions,' he said. Randy Mott, senior vice-president and CIO at computer-maker Dell, said that the challenges faced by Hong Kong's CIO would be similar to those tackled by the IT leader of an enterprise that had acquired a number of other businesses. '[The leader] has to figure out how to get these different IT organisations together into an overall plan,' Mr Mott said. 'He would ask himself: How can I do this more effectively? How can I get synergy? How can I take a common approach? 'It's not unlike the approach that we've taken inside Dell, where we have global systems as common systems,' he said. Asked what would be his best advice to the future CIO of Hong Kong, Mr Mott said: '[The CIO] should make sure that there is a roadmap and work out a long-term plan.' He said the IT organisation at Dell typically plotted an IT roadmap that covered between six and eight financial quarters. 'Planning further than that is very difficult to do,' he said.