One of my colleagues, Karen Rubenstrunk, is a principal advisor for our CIO Executive Program. I’ve known Karen for close to 20 years; she is a superior CIO coach. Recently, we found ourselves discussing the challenges CIOs have communicating business value. Here is Karen’s point of view:
If you’ve been around tech management as long as I have, at some point you’ve had the conversation that keeps on giving (like heartburn): how to better communicate the value of technology to the business.
Like me, I’m sure you’ve continued to wonder why we keep having this conversation over and over and over.
At a recent CIO Group Member Meeting, I found myself drawn into this conversation yet again — and being the lone dissenter in the room about what to do about it. While we kept talking about which new technologies or recent economic trends were making the task of communicating value so difficult, I’ve learned that the real problem isn’t technical, it’s personal: CIOs need to focus on perceptions and invest in the power of personal relationships with business peers.
Perceptions Drive Value
Technology’s perceived value to the institution is directly related to the maturity of the relationship between technology management and other functional managers and their teams, and that relationship is built on two fundamental perceptions: 1) the business’ perception of its dependence on technology, and 2) the business’ perception of technology management competence (see figure below).
We’ve been talking to many of you in the last year about improving our Forrester Leadership Boards for Enterprise Architecture Professionals -- our peer collaboration program for senior executives.
In our research, we found there was a clear distinction between the executive audience: the enterprise architects and the leaders of strategy, planning and innovation for their IT organizations.
As such, in addition to our existing Enterprise Architecture Council, we have just launched our Business Technology Strategy Council to better serve our executives in this role! In order to distinguish between these groups, below are some examples of some of the member challenges you’ll find in each of these groups.
Business Technology Strategy Council:
Establish strategies with quantifiable business impact.
Drive innovation and embracing emerging technologies.
Mobilize executives, peers, and customers around your BT strategy.
For the most part, enterprises understand that virtualization and automation are key components of a private cloud, but at what point does a virtualized environment become a private cloud? What can a private cloud offer that a virtualized environment can’t? How do you sell this idea internally? And how do you deliver a true private cloud in 2011?
In London, this March, I am facilitating a meeting of the Forrester Leadership Board Infrastructure & Operations Council, where we will tackle these very questions. If you are considering building a private cloud, there are changes you will need to make in your organization to get it right and our I&O council meeting will give you the opportunity to discuss this with other I&O leaders facing the same challenge.