Over the past few months I have spoken with a lot of CIOs, customer experience professionals, marketing professionals, and BT strategists in both the public and private sectors in Australia about their organization’s or department’s mobile strategy. This culminated in a number of meetings in Canberra last week, where I got a great feel for how mobile strategies are playing out within the Australian federal government.
While there is a broad spectrum of maturity when it comes to embracing the mobile mind shift, the good news is that everyone I spoke with recognized not only how important mobility is to existing business processes, but also that mobile will transform their customer base and their organization.
It was interesting to note that the conversations I’ve been having with private-sector organizations about mobility usually involve both someone from the CIO’s department and someone from marketing (sometimes CX, sometimes management, sometimes channels). Mobile initiatives are generally partnerships; while the business side leads these initiatives, they also involve the technology department. In contrast, in the public sector the mobile initiative is often led by the technology department — and often by the CIO herself.
Forrester just published its “India Tech Market Outlook: 2014” report; here’s a summary. We expect the Indian economy to start recovering from the tough situation it faced in 2013. It will start picking up (albeit at a slower rate) in 2014 thanks to good monsoons, an uptick in exports due to the weakening of the rupee, and huge infrastructure projects in public transportation, housing, agriculture, and farming that we expect to take off once a new central government is in place. As a result, we’ve marginally increased our 2014 forecast from 7.4% to 8% in local currency. But the biggest threat to India’s economic outlook is political instability after the national elections, which could have a long-term economic impact.
The three most important highlights from the report:
Customer obsession will take center stage for technology spending. The increasing demands of digital customers are redefining business. Recent Forrsights data indicates that Indian CIOs’ top business priority is to address the rising expectations of customers and improve customer satisfaction; 87% consider it a high or critical priority. Business leaders want to leverage technology to better engage digitally enabled constituents, fundamentally shifting how firms interact with customers.
These devices are starting to find their way into the hands of consumers, but much of the retail channel has yet to catch up. Smart locks, smart wearables, and smart fitness devices are all generally being sold through the traditional online and offline channels for electronics and devices; sports stores, clothing retailers, and home hardware stores have been slow on the uptake. In the US, we have already seen some electronics retailers (such as Best Buy) significantly expand their “smart wearables” section from a small pod to an entire aisle or even a dedicated corner or section of the store. At the same time, many sports stores have not even started carrying the latest fitness tracking devices — something that should be in their sweet spot.
Way back in September, I promised a series of blogs addressing this subject. I had high hopes of delivering a post a week for five weeks on the topic. Needless to say . . . life interjected!
So here, a little later than planned, is the second post in the series.
Step 1 - Change where you work
If I had a thousand bucks for each time I’ve heard someone in technology management say “IT and the business,” I’d have retired long ago. And it’s not just something we hear in technology circles either. The plain truth is technology professionals have been using isolationist language for decades. I say isolationist because any time we refer to "IT and the business” as if they were two different entities, we are creating an artificial divide. As a department of the business, IT is very much part of “the business.”
When technology leaders create this divide between the technology group and the rest of the business, it separates their actions from the purpose of the business. Technology professionals start to see themselves as some sort of technology service provider to the business. But the truth is that the technology team should be integral to delivering value to the customer. If “the business” wanted a technology service provider, the leadership team would outsource IT. Unfortunately, one consequence of managing IT like a vendor is that it becomes much easier for the leadership team to make that outsourcing decision.
With a weakening economy, skyrocketing food prices, and an attrition rate of around 14%, Indian CIOs’ biggest worry is increasing the salaries of their IT staff. Data from Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Survey, Q4 2013, indicates that 71% of Indian CIOs will increase their spending on IT staff salaries and benefits in 2014 — tops in the Asia Pacific region (figure below).
In return for the increase in staff salaries, Indian CIOs will face two challenges:
Increased pressure from CEOs to contribute to the company’s top line.By 2016, 70% of Indian CIOs will report to CEOs. As the boundary between IT and business blurs further, CEOs will get more directly involved in business-led technology discussions as a means to differentiate their organization and drive business growth. They’ll look for new technology capabilities to respond to customer needs better, faster, and cheaper — and won’t be satisfied with an IT organization that merely keeps the lights on.
The need to retool their IT teams. All too often, IT lacks business-oriented communication skills and team members rarely or never share business knowledge with each other. IT staff continue to be order-takers. The biggest challenge for CIOs today is how to make their technical people more business-savvy; this problem will only get more difficult as pressure from the business increases.
Over the past nine months I've been interviewing chief digital officers and senior digital leaders across a variety of industries to gain insight into the emerging role of digital leadership. My colleague Martin Gill and I wanted to discover why firms hire chief digital officers and what they are responsible for — more importantly I was looking to discover what CEOs should be doing to set up their businesses for success in a digital world.
One aspect of the research I'd like to highlight here is the need to think of digital as more than simply a bolt-on to your business. To create a digital business able to compete in the age of the customer, we need to think of building out a digital business ecosystem. I know what you're thinking — "not another ecosystem" — and yes, it's a very overused term, especially by consultants and analysts. But I simply can't think of a better term to describe the interconnected and codependent relationships needed in a fully digitized business (see diagram).
Over the past 12 months, we have witnessed the acquisition of 28 software or software-as-a-service (SaaS) firms globally, compared with only 13 IT services or BPO firms (see the figure below). The Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Survey, Q4 2012 indicated that 67% of business decision-makers in India planned to increase their department’s spending on SaaS and other as-a-service offerings in 2013 through the IT organization. Anticipating the market’s growing shift to the cloud, large enterprise software players like Oracle and SAP are acquiring SaaS-based products and solutions (Taleo, Ariba, SuccessFactors, etc.) to help them shift their business model to meet the growing market preference for SaaS subscription software over traditional licensed software products.
CIOs in India must capitalize on this gradual global shift in M&A — away from pure IT services and toward cloud-based services — in order to fundamentally shift the way IT is delivered in their organizations. CIOs should adopt a three-pronged strategy to gain full advantage of global technology M&A trends:
Let's face it, IT often suffers from a bad reputation. And in many cases it's well deserved. Over the years many IT leaders attempted to change IT's reputation by empowering other departments to dictate what IT should be doing — and in the process they became order-takers. And the portfolio of projects from well-meaning business leaders mushroomed. To cope with the overwhelming demand, IT established rigorous process around governance, forming committees with the power to determine what IT works on. And almost inevitably, many of these committees are bogged down by politics — meaning IT is not always working on the right things — and at the same time slowing down the whole pace of change. No wonder then that many people across the business spectrum view their own IT group as a slow, unresponsive impediment to getting things done.
But CIOs the world over are actively engaged with their leadership teams in changing IT's reputation. The goal for these CIOs is to shift IT from order-taker to business-partner, helping shape future business strategy and using technology to increase the value their organization brings to the end customers of the business.
This transition is not easy. Nor is it guaranteed to work. Sometimes an IT organization's employees are simply unwilling or unable to embrace the change. Sometimes the reputation of IT is so sullied that nothing short of a cold-reboot will work (organizations going down this route will start by outsourcing all of IT, then they gradually hire back key skills needed to derive more effective business outcomes).
As part of the research for my upcoming report on midmarket IT budgets in India, we collected responses on big data adoption trends and maturity levels from 430 midmarket businesses (those with 400 to 2,500 employees) in the country. Our research shows that around 35% of Indian midmarket firms plan to invest in big data technologies and solutions in the coming one to two years, but we also found that many of them focus on reducing costs (30%) or optimizing asset utilization (25%) as the business outcomes expected. Moreover, only 8% of midmarket CIOs who plan to invest in big data have a projected or proven ROI for their big data investments — showing that many Indian organizations are getting caught up in big data hype.
India’s weakening economic conditions have put tremendous pressure on businesses to be more competitive and drive growth. As competition in the midmarket increases, business leaders will expect new IT capabilities to respond to customer needs better, faster, and cheaper. The pressure is now firmly on CIOs to deliver clear business outcomes on their big data investments. Our survey and my discussions with Indian CIOs have led me to the following recommendations for midmarket CIOs investing in big data:
In advance of Forrester's Summit for CIOs in Singapore on August 30, I had an opportunity to speak with Paul Cobban about his successful transformations at DBS Bank over the past few years. Based in Singapore, Paul oversees business transformation, operational excellence, customer experience, IT project office, procurement, real eastate, operational risk and business continuity management. I've had a sneak peak at his event presentation and it is excellent. Paul is a progressive CIO at the forefront of BT innovation and business engagement with a lot of valuable insight to share.
1. What do you think IT departments are doing right and wrong these days?
In banking the IT departments have had to change enormously in recent years. On top of the usual relentless advances in technology, security challenges have escalated, the war for talent has accelerated and regulation continues to evolve with the challenges. I believe that IT departments have had to adapt well to these changes.
However, in most companies there is a lack of a truly customer centric design. Although there is some hype in the industry around service-oriented architecture (SOA), I believe that until budgets are allocated around customer processes rather than by functional units, systems will continue to be designed as applications for the department users rather than with the customer in mind. In addition, most companies fail to take usability seriously and have little concept of cross touchpoint consistency.