Here’s the elevator pitch: The job of the CIO is going to change from something like “show me the business process, and I will help you automate it” to “here is what we need to do to streamline our business capabilities and increase the firm’s level of engagement with customers and partners.” In other words, the CIO’s focus is moving from aligning IT and the business to aligning business capabilities and better serving customers.
To set the stage for my presentation, I will bring two key trends into one picture: The first trend comes from Josh’s Bernoff’s research. He has shown how successful companies changed their source of differentiation over time from manufacturing-centric positioning to being “customer-obsessed” in the age of the customer. The second trend comes from Andrew Bartels’ research. Andy argues that the history of IT has seen three waves of innovation — mainframe computing, personal computing, and network computing — while the fourth wave, smart computing, is now under way.
Yes, that’s right — I’m suggesting CIOs should stop working on IT strategy. The days of developing a technology strategy that aligns to business strategy need to be behind us. Today’s CIOs must focus on business strategy.
Let’s face it: Does sound business strategy even exist today without technology? Most CEOs would likely agree that, unless you are running a lemonade stand, any successful business strategy must have solid technology at its core. The challenge for today’s CEOs is that, while planning business strategy in isolation from technology is sub-optimal, it remains the most common way business leaders develop strategy. And while there have been many great books about strategy, the specific challenges facing the CIO are largely absent.