As you may know, I recently was named the Research Director for our CIO team — a team of highly accomplished and experienced analysts at Forrester. One of our first tasks as a team was to define the current changes in the technology and business landscape and develop a cohesive view of what this means for the role of CIO. What will it mean to be a CIO in the “empowered” world? As you can imagine, this led to a healthy debate and many different perspectives on what the future CIO role would look like. Here are some highlights from our discussion so far.
What is changing for the CIO?
Technology plays an increasingly critical role in business success. In Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Tracker Survey, Q4 2010, 52% of the business decision-makers strongly agreed with the statement “Technology is fundamental element of our business model.” Many companies are starting to use technology as a business differentiator, and many businesses rely on technology to provide critical information for making strategic business decisions.
Empowered technologies make it easy to bypass IT. The empowered technologies — social, mobile, video, and cloud — are rapidly transforming the information landscape. Increasingly, these technologies are easy to acquire and bring into the corporate environment, and many can be sourced and managed outside of IT’s control — making it easy for the business and employees to bypass IT.
Every year, people talk about the future of IT, which is shorthand for, "Some big changes may be in the works." In the last year, we've had to revise that sentence to read, "Some big changes are definitely in the works." Agile practices will be a critical tool for making this transition successfully, but not because of velocity. At least, that won't be the primary virtue of Agile that helps with the transition.
One of the Founding Fathers of Agile, Jim Highsmith, recently commented on his blog about an MIT study that surveyed one face of this mountain of change:
The implications of these changes in emphasis could be significant in terms of mindset and capabilities in and out of IT departments. From a focus on standardization, optimization, and cost control, the focus shifts to innovative uses of emerging technologies such as social media, cloud computing, and mobile devices; speed to market; flexibility to follow changing opportunities, and building new products and services.
If you have not read it already, I encourage you to read The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. In the book, Mr. Gawande explains the phenomenal results checklists can deliver in both routine processes and when processes go hay-wire. Much of the book deals with Mr. Gawande’s experiences in delivering improved results when using checklists in performing surgeries — literally a matter of life and death. The book makes a compelling case for using checklists in any matter of activities to help even seasoned, highly trained individuals — such as surgeons and pilots — deliver positive results.
While eCommerce technology selection is not a matter of life and death, still much goes wrong. And when things go wrong, there are many impacts, including cost and time over-runs, lost business opportunity, and the delivery of failed customer experiences. (And of course negative impacts on careers and reputations.) Many of those bad outcomes can be avoided. In our work with clients — and technology vendors who deliver products and services to those clients — we hear over and over again stories of what goes wrong. Many times these are problems that could have been avoided had simple best practices been followed. We have created this checklist to help eBusiness leaders and their teams to run technology selection processes consistently and routinely, following best practices.
The checklist illustrates these steps in a tool you can use as is or customize as needed: