It's about the people, stupid

So, if you were given an opportunity to talk about day two of a technology conference attended by hundreds of technology, business, and vendor folk discussing how they're going to work together to solve really interesting problems over the next few years, what would you say?

How about, "Wow!"

While I heard plenty of talk about technology and tools, each of the couple dozen conversations I had quickly moved to a discussion of people and relationships and how to get things done. Here's a sample of the interactions I was lucky enough to participate in

  • A director of development at a $3B+ logistics services company has been leading his company through a transition to Agile. He decided to introduce product management practices into his methods and wanted to talk about how best to set up a "customer council" to forge and sustain quality, bi-directional relationships with his users.
  • A CIO at a well-known consumer products company recently decided to end IT's habit of trying to stop vendors and business people from speaking to each other independently of IT. By letting go, he got back — courtesy of vendor efforts to educate his executives — a business leadership team that both better understands the challenges and opportunities presented by current tech changes and much better appreciates the work that IT does.
  • A marketing executive at a travel services company is implementing an idea — brought to her by her IT organization — for implementing Web 2.0 technologies to garner more business-group travel dollars as the economy changes. What was really interesting here is that she had her IT brainchild in tow the entire time, seeking insights from peers, vendors, and analysts, regarding how to speed and smooth their business transition.

The conference theme was "embracing chaos and delivering business results." Well, based on feedback I got at Forrester’s Business Technology Leadership Forum, I’m pleased to report that business technologists are getting a lot of business results at the cost of pretty modest technology chaos. Everyone noted how hard change can be. But attendees also seem to recognize that when business and technology leaders work together, ideally in concert with vendors, very cool things start happening.

What do you think? Is industry change paralyzing your BT efforts? Or are you successfully working your relationships to deliver business results?

Peter Burris, Principal Analyst & Research Director
Technology Product Management & Analyst Relations
Forrester Research