The Renaissance was possible because of dissemination of ideas from the later 15th century. The availability of paper and the subsequent invention of the printing press in 1445 forever changed the lives of people in Europe and, eventually, all over the world. Previously, bookmaking entailed copying all the words and illustrations by hand, often onto parchment or animal skin. The labor that went into creating books made each one very expensive to make and acquire. The advent of the printing press helped produce books better, faster, and cheaper and led to disruptive cultural revolution.
We are experiencing a very similar phenomenon today. We are in the midst of digital disruption. The printing press of our time is platforms such as social, mobile, cloud and analytics that help propagate value to our customers better, faster and more cheaply than previously available options. So whether you are on board or not, this disruption is taking place; the two choices you have are: become a disruptive CIO or be disrupted.
Data from the Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Tracker Survey, Q4 2012 highlights the increasing gap between CIOs and business decision-makers (BDMs) in India — a gap that originates in misaligned perspectives. The rapid rise of social media, cloud computing, and mobility in India has started to significantly affect how organizations do business in the country. Business leaders’ use of consumer technology has changed their expectations of how enterprise IT should be harnessed. They increasingly seek to use technology in innovative ways in order to gain a competitive edge and drive business growth. However, most CIOs are still caught in the old world of focusing exclusively on IT budgets and project delivery performance issues:
I recently spoke with a few CIOs in India to explore their views on the reasons behind this misalignment. When I shared data from the chart above and asked their opinions on the insights, some interesting findings that came out:
There are many “heads of IT” and few “business technology (BT) CIOs” in India. One CIO from a large auto manufacturing firm mentioned that a majority of CIOs in India are actually “IT heads” who think and act mainly from an IT perspective. Even worse, their thinking is generally very hardware-centric. This CIO’s opinion is in sync with my recent report highlighting the fact that Indian CIOs are at risk of losing business credibility (and eventually their jobs) if they do not improve their understanding of BT.
For hosted voice service providers and mobile network and fixed-line operators, BT’s launch of a major global IP exchange (GIPX) hub in Singapore could be good news. Set up to meet the demand for growing traffic over its IP Exchange platform, this is the third announcement I’ve seen from telcos in this region in the space of two months — the others being Telstra Global Services and Tata Communications.
BT’s wholesale service enables communications providers to connect VoIP to VoIP and VoIP to traditional voice calls, and runs over its MPLS network — i.e., a private IP network.
I spoke with Beatriz Butsana-Sita, managing director of BT Global Services and Global Telecom Markets, who explained that delivering the GIPX service closer to BT’s wholesale customers in this region serves to minimize their cost to interconnect to BT’s clearinghouse. “GIPX also provides an opening into BT’s platform for advanced IP services that we continue to invest in,” she said.
The telco is also working on a number of developments to further expand the service, such as the ability to support mobile 4G and provide video interoperability between different devices and networks.
The BT GIPX Singapore hub:
Provides a local switch function in the Asia Pacific region. This brings BT’s GIPX service closer to customers’ networks.
Acts as a multiservice GIPX point of presence (PoP). This helps address the growing demand for interconnect services in the region. The services that benefit from and are supported by GIPX include fixed and mobile voice (at a range of qualities, e.g., high-definition voice); fixed, mobile, and wireless data; roaming services; and videoconferencing.
Forrester held its first CIO Summit in New Delhi, India on September 26, 2012. The theme of the event was “From IT To Business Technology (BT) And Beyond.” There were more than 100 attendees, and it was truly a memorable experience interacting with everyone. By the end of the day, I had received encouraging responses from attendees, as many CIOs expressed their willingness to work with Forrester. They found that no other research firm focuses on understanding how changing customer expectations affect what the business needs from them or helps them make better decisions to become successful and influential leaders. We had a great mix of analyst and CIO presentations, and the panel discussion on “Taking Your First Business Technology Steps” with our guest CIO speakers was complete bliss.
The key takeaways from the summit:
· IT/business alignment doesn’t necessarily equate to success. The consumerization of IT and fast-changing business dynamics make it challenging for CIOs to continue to align their IT organizations with the business. The reality in today’s world is that IT must become an integral part of the business and CIOs need to develop their IT strategy in conjunction with business leaders.
· Disrupt or be ready to get disrupted. According to Forrester’sForrsights Budgets and Priorities Tracker Survey, Q2 2012,customer expectations are the top concern among business decision-makers in Asia Pacific. Today, customers are redefining differentiation for organizations in the age of the customer and are setting the stage for rapid digital disruption.
Indian CIOs are at the risk of losing business credibility if they do not improve their understanding of business technology (BT). This is the key finding from thelatest report that John Brand and I just published. For this report, we surveyed 130 companies in India, using Forrester’s BT Leadership Maturity Model as a baseline for gauging the BT maturity and readiness of Indian organizations. Our survey revealed a surprising level of consistency and positivity about BT among Indian firms, regardless of organization size, type or industry.
This was especially surprising given that BT is a relatively new concept in emerging markets. When we asked CIOs at Indian organizations to define BT in their own words, the responses displayed an overwhelmingly enthusiastic and optimistic view of BT; the most common theme centered on the value of BT as a general principle. However, many topics that were widely cited in self-assessments from CIOs in more mature markets like North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand were all but ignored by Indian CIOs, including time-to-value, market differentiation, communication, and governance. As Indian CIOs have not long been exposed to the general concepts of BT, Forrester believes that inflated self-rankings are mainly attributed to a lack of understanding of just how comprehensive BT is.
The report helps answer key questions such as:
· Why are Indian CIOs remarkably consistent in their BT views and attitudes? And is this really just due to a common tendency to inflate their own BT maturity?
As regular readers of my blog will know, I’ve been talking about moving beyond alignment for a number of years now. The fact is, too many CIOs have been able to get by on the basis of managing the technology black box — and CEOs and CFOs have been complicit in allowing these same CIOs the freedom to do what they want within tightly controlled budgets, not wanting to sully their hands with “all that technology stuff.” But those days are rapidly coming to an end. The technology genie is out of the bottle; today’s business-unit leaders are more dependent on technology than ever before, and they are also much more tech-savvy. CIOs can no longer hide behind the technology black box — it’s time to change the IT game forever. It’s time for IT to drive business results and connect all technology investments to business outcomes.
Today’s new CEOs are looking to CIOs and IT to make a direct impact on business goals from investments in technology. While every business must make technology investments to sustain operations, IT must move beyond simply keeping the lights on and connect the dots between effective growth strategies and new technology investments. This requires a different set of technology and business skills: different people, process, and technology in the IT organization. In fact, the organization is so different we now call it the business technology organization, or BT. The distinction between IT and BT is subtle but important. BT represents the fusion of the IT organization into the rest of the business. In a BT organization, the lines between IT and business units are blurred. What is important is a focus on the roles needed for effective business technology strategy execution. What’s not important are reporting lines.
I presented the keynote at the Biztech2 event in Mumbai last week. It was a big evening, as almost all key Indian CIOs were present at the event. The theme of my keynote was “The Empowered BT CIO,” which triggered some interesting thoughts, as all of the discussions that I had after the presentation were mainly around “business” with hardly any mention of “technology.” Below are the key points mentioned by CIOs in my discussions with them:
“We do all the work and business leaders take all the credit. But if something goes wrong, we are the ones who get the blame.”
“The money is with the finance and marketing departments, and we have to depend on them for our budget. My CEO should change this structure.”
“I don’t have followers in my organization.”
“My organization doesn’t give me the same importance as it gives the CFO or CMO.”
“Through technology innovation, I helped the company reduce IT spending and save money.”
All of these points have one thing in common: “my present role and issues that I face today.” But no one talked about their future role! My response to them was consistent, as I categorically highlighted that CIOs have two options:
Continue with your current approach — but then the future role of the CIO will be dismal.
Step up and take the challenge to shape the business. Take it as an opportunity to transform your role in the empowered world.
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.
I had an interesting conversation with a Forrester client in response to an inquiry about the definition of “time to value” for technology solutions. When I received the question, I thought, “That’s easy!” While there is no “GAAP” definition of time to value, I was ready to say that it would be one of two things:
1- The time from project start to the start of business benefit accrual. So, if a project took 12 months to implement, and then three months for the business to adapt to it, the time until business benefits began to accrue would be 15 months.
2- The time from project start to the date at which cumulative business benefits exceeded the cumulative costs. In other words, the time until the “payback” of the investment.
However, in trolling around to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything, I stumbled upon a potential third definition (and I wish I could point back to the source). One commentator on the Web suggested something a bit different – and something that has a great deal of merit as we rely more and more on technology to drive business gains. In his definition, time to value represented the time until the business targets for the solution were achieved. So, rather than looking at the start of benefits, or the date we’re no longer cash-negative, we are now looking at the time until the full desired benefits are achieved. So this becomes:
3- Time to value is the time from project initiation until the projection of total business benefits is achieved.
This change in perspective has a number of implications:
Corporate CIOs should not ignore the network-centric nature of cloud-based solutions when developing their cloud strategies and choosing their cloud providers. And end users should understand what role(s) telcos are likely to play in the evolution of the wider cloud marketplace.
Like many IT suppliers, telcos view cloud computing as a big opportunity to grow their business. Cloud computing will dramatically affect telcos — but not by generating significant additional revenues. Instead, cloud computing will alter the role of telcos in the value chain irreversibly, putting their control over usage metering and billing at risk. Alarm bells should ring for telcos as Google, Amazon, et al. put their own billing and payment relationships with customers in place.
Telcos must defend their revenue collection role at all costs; failure to do so will accelerate their decline to invisible utility status. At the same time, cloud computing offers telcos a chance to become more than bitpipe providers. Cloud solutions will increasingly be delivered by ecosystems of providers that include telcos, software, hardware, network equipment vendors, and OTT providers.
Telcos have a chance to leverage their network and financial assets to grow into the role of ecosystem manager. To start on this path, telcos will provide cloud-based solutions that are adjacent to communication services they already provide (like home area networking and machine-to-machine solutions), such as connected healthcare and smart grid solutions. Expanding from this beachhead into a broader role in cloud solutions markets is a tricky path that only some telcos will successfully navigate.
We are analyzing the potential role of telcos in cloud computing markets in the research report Telcos as Cloud Rainmakers.