The Empowered BT Era Will Force (Yes, Force) A New Role For CIOs - And Drag IT Out Of The Backrooms

Reporting Manager. Computer Systems Manager. MIS Director. IT Manager. Chief Technology Officer. Director Of IT. Chief Information Officer. 

It's not just a change of job title. It's the recognition of the change of an era.

While the current term "CIO" engenders a spirit of managing information assets (not technology) the reality for many is that the CIO role is still just as much about operations, platforms, products, vendors and contracts as it is about developing the strategic value of information within the organization. But while we are distracted by the day-to-day running of our businesses, we forget that the world truly is changing. The old adage that we "overestimate what can be achieved in a year and underestimate what can be achieved in five" has never been more true.

CIOs are the new face of a new generation. We don't have a cool new name for you yet -- but it's coming. Whatever you will be called, it is what you do that will ultimately define you.

With these changes comes a completely new set of skills and capabilities for all of "IT" (I'm sure in 20 years' time even that will be called something different). The journey has already started. The ground has been moving beneath your feet for some time now. It's time to stop trying to "gain a seat at the table" and start organizing the party.

Here's just a couple of things we're seeing that are forcing CIOs roles to change and what to do about it -- now. 

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Zero Trust Identity: Go From "Identity-As-A-Service" To "IAM-As-An-API"

I just love the theme of our upcoming Forrester Security Forum (Las Vegas in May, and Paris in June -- check out Laura Koetzle's definitive blog post). Leapfrog Your Global Competition. Rethink Security; Run At The Threat. There's never been a better time to take a deep breath and rethink how security can contribute to business savvy and agility. The "Zero Trust Identity" report I'd telegraphed in my previous post on API access control is now out, and it's consonant with this theme. I found that if enterprises want to be nimble and secure in getting value out of mobile, cloud, and consumerization trends, they're going to have to get over some bad "unextended enterprise" habits, such as tight coupling to authentication functions.

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Changing Wheels While Still In The Race . . . Lessons Learned From Process Excellence

I’m at IQPC's Financial Services conference in New York listening to Brenton Harder, MD and head of operational excellence at Credit Suisse. He's clearly got a lot of experience under his belt that is worth sharing. Here are some BPM lessons learned based on his experience working in multiple businesses:

  1. Businesses must move from static BPM to a dynamic community with a clear customer focus. He believes BPM practitioners need to own the customer experience and even become chief customer officers. He also thinks “outside in” BPM hasn’t been customer-centric enough. Focusing on the customer requires more than thinking about inputs and outputs to a process; instead, it involves really digging in and understanding the end-to-end business process from the customer’s vantage.
  2. Continuous improvement, or Kaizen, is fundamentally sound, but sometimes you must go faster than that. For example, in financial services, regulatory requirements are moving faster than ever, and customer expectations are increasing at a faster pace, requiring process experts to move faster than most continuous improvement methodologies and tools support.
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It's Time To Get Serious About Services Innovation

Year over year, Forrester hears from clients who are frustrated with their providers’ inability to provide innovation. In 2011, 60% of respondents to Forrester's Sourcing and Vendor Management Survey cited "Limited ability to define or provide innovation" as one of the top complaints when evaluating their suppliers. The frustrations behind these numbers include:

  • “I have to push my suppliers for every bit of innovation they provide outside of the contract.” 
  • “Vendors consider 'innovation' anything that involves selling me more stuff.”
  • “They say it's innovation, but it’s not even specific to my business.”

Service providers, of course, are eager to market themselves as innovative. They’re competing in a market filled with scrappy upstarts — and they’re all striving to differentiate offerings. Yet they are also frustrated with innovation — the innovation demands of clients. The common complaints we hear from them include:

  • “It’s rare that clients can define what they want when they ask for innovation.”
  • “Our clients always tell us they want innovation. They are just not willing to pay for it.”
  • “We can’t provide innovation for clients if they won’t put us in touch with their business.”
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Gotcha’s In Change Management For Business Process Improvement

IQPC’s Process Excellence for Financial Services conference just got to one of my favorite topics — change management. The more I work in process transformation, the more I realize that change management is absolutely crucial for determining success or failure. Also, driving innovation and sustaining a culture of innovation is closely linked to how well the organization does change management.

The panelists include:

  • Karl Friedman, coaching/training lead, Allstate Insurance Co.
  • Larry Duckworth, COO, The Quality Group.
  • Christopher Gaver, vice president, service excellence, Prudential.
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Live From New York — Process Excellence For Financial Services

Today I’ve had the opportunity to speak at and attend a conference about Business Process Management for financial services.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Process practitioners and BPM practitioners are still discovering each other. Although these two types of people are passionate about improving and transforming processes, they invariably come from different backgrounds and practices. Process practitioners typically have Six Sigma black belts and/or practice Lean, and they usually report into business operations or some C-suite business executive. Often, process practitioners do not have any experience in, knowledge about, and interest in BPM software. Conversely, many BPM practitioners work in IT, may report to a director of BPM or the CIO, and have found BPM software to be a powerful way to “modernize” IT and automate improved processes. These two kinds of people desperately need to meet each other, join forces and learn from one another, and ultimately end up in a BPM Center of Excellence together. Usually process practitioners get nervous whenever software creeps into the discussion, but this conference is different. It’s great to see both types of practitioners sharing experiences and figuring out how to work together in the future.
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Cloud Computing At NAB: The Media And Cloud Businesses Are Evolving To The Same Economic Model

NAB 2012 - Where Content Comes to LifeWhile the bulk of the enterprise IT market grumbles about the maturity and security of cloud computing services, it looks like the media & entertainment segment is just doing it. At the annual conference for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in Las Vegas, myriad technology vendors are showing off their solutions that are transforming the way video content gets to us and behind the scenes there appears to be a lot of cloud computing making this happen. And there is a strong fit between these two industries because their business and economic models are evolving in complementary ways.

 

Sure, we all know that video streaming to your phone, tablet and TV is the new normal, but how this is accomplished is changing under the covers and cloud computing brings the economic model that maps better to the business of media and entertainment. You see, while broadcasting is a steady state business, the production process and eventual popularity of any particular video segment or show isn't. The workflow behind the scenes is evolving rapidly — or more appropriately devolving. 

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Three Barriers Holding Back CIOs

Today, with technology embedded in virtually every business process and market dynamics changing at a mind-boggling pace, the role of CIO is rapidly changing from a technology manager to a business executive. CIOs need to be influential business partners that are not just collaborating with the business but co-creating solutions for the organization. But many CIOs are struggling to get there. In a recent Forrester survey, 54% of business decision-makers said that IT does not understand the business issues and priorities to tackle them. Business decision-makers also recognize the importance of technology to their business models: 75% said technology is too important to them not to get involved in. So the message is clear: if the CIOs don’t step up, businesses will find ways to source technology through other means — and many already have. 

Forrester has identified three key barriers to CIO success:

  • Brittle processes and legacy systems. Brittle processes are created when you have technologists thinking in binary terms while developing business solutions. Compounding the problem is the fact that these processes are embedded (in many cases hard coded) into legacy systems.
  • Victim mentality. This is probably the most common one on both sides of the aisle. Business folks often love bashing IT on their speed and responsiveness, while IT often feels they are asked to do the impossible. Many CIOs feel that they could be real business partners only if the business considered them an equal and gave them an opportunity to be so.
  • Bulletproof solutions. Often the need for agility and speed outweigh performance requirements, yet IT processes are not built to be agile. Anything coming out of the IT shop has to be bulletproof, scalable, integrated and highly redundant.
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Consumerization And The Nagging IT Expectations Gap

 

 

Occasionally, I take a look back at my research and see what we got right, and what we got wrong. In 2008, we wrote "Embrace The Risks And Rewards Of Technology Populism" to describe what we saw as the inevitable acceleration of technology change at the edges of organizations. Think mobile, social, and cloud technologies, and the influence they were having on corporate IT. We of course got the name wrong: Technology Populism never really stuck. But four years later, the phenomenon itself is all around us, wrapped up in the more accepted term "Consumerization of IT" (and corporations' defensive response, "Bring-your-own IT"). Every day, we're reminded of the incredible growth of social networks that now influence all aspects of society from traditional media, corporate brands, and even the direction of politics and governments. Every day, we see people around us glued to personal mobile devices -- texting with friends and colleagues, reading news, and checking in on Facebook. And sadly, every day, people walk into their employers and sense the technology they use at work looks older, and runs slower than what they have at home. In fact, it's become hard to remember a world when this wasn’t the case.

But besides the name, we also got other things wrong:

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EA Maturity Sounds Nice . . . Now How Do We Get It Done?

We sure do talk a lot about enterprise architecture (EA) maturity. When I think about it, every piece of research we create is in some way intended to help EA leaders mature their practice. But alas, reading alone isn’t what matures an EA practice. Somebody, somewhere (likely, you) has the difficult task of implementing these EA concepts as processes, artifacts, methodologies, etc. And there arises the challenge: Simply building a “new thing” such as a business capability map or a set of reference architectures isn’t where maturity comes from. Rather, it’s about getting these “new things” out there, seeing them used, making sure they’re relevant, and realizing an impact.

For the many EA practices that want to evolve their practices toward a strategy- and business-driven role, actually getting that done means going outside of EA’s current scope. In order to execute on this vision, EA must consider three competencies to see them through their maturity journey, all of which are fraught with boundaries:

  1. Insight. EA professionals need to be able to show that they have an understanding of their firm’s direction and their stakeholder’s strategies for navigating toward it. EA practices therefore need some procedure for gaining this insight — especially since most firms don’t articulate it well. But how can EA — which may historically be tactical and technology driven — get involved?
  2. Influence. EA must now reach out to new stakeholders and use this newfound insight to influence their decisions. The challenge for many EA practices is to avoid blindsiding or overwhelming their stakeholders, as opposed to making their decisions easier. So what is the right way to approach new stakeholders and position your insight?
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