Death Of The CIO, Birth Of The CBTO

All CEOs worry that the CIO and staff are more interested in technology than in driving business results. Here are some simple but powerful changes you can make to get your technologists leaning in the right direction...
For the last three years, I've been advocating that companies drop the term "IT" to describe their technology efforts and replace it with "Business Technology" (BT). This signals the people who work in technology departments of large companies that they exist to drive one thing (business) and it signals the corporation that the technology department is serious about helping increase growth and profit. The graphic at left shows that firms are already on the road to building better linkage between technology inputs and business results.
Once you make the switch to BT, I propose that you drop the term "CIO" and adopt a new moniker for the head of technology: "Chief Business Technology Officer" (CBTO). I was in front a large group of Forrester's CIO clients in October and I asked them to describe the CBTO using a semi-comedic device: "You know you're a CBTO if..." Here are some of the better entries:
"You know you're a CBTO if your boss feels that you can step into the COO or CEO role."
“If you stop worrying about how fast the technology is changing and start worrying about how fast the business environment is changing.”
“If you are comfortable debating M&A and market share with your CEO.”
“If you have moved on from thinking analog -- you have mastered thinking digitally.”
“If you think first about creating greater value for the customer.”
“If you can speak the language of the CFO, CMO, and CEO as well as your native technology language.”
“If your success depends upon reacting to the desires of millions you will never meet.”
I love that last thought -- that the CBTO's sensitivity to customers will be so high that he or she will know exactly what technology to implement. Most CEOs would be overjoyed if their heads of technology possessed such a skill.
OK -- what do you think? How would you complete the sentence, "You know you're a CBTO if...?" I'd love to get your comment.


You know you're a CBTO

You know you're a CBTO if...? are "digitally fluent" enough to comfortably connect technology means with the business ends they actually support. "Digitally literate" people know all about the technologies and how they work. Digitally fluent people know when and why to use (or not use) those digital technologies to achieve a desired business outcome.

(interesting post, George. I think you're onto something important here)



Love the thought but a rose by any other name ... you can complete this one.

It is way more important to ACT like a CBTO than to be change the letters on your business card. You are a CBTO, no matter what it says on the org chart when people perceive you as a business savvy colleague and not the "IT guy"


Yes, but words have consequences. Changing the name of the CIO to incorporate the word "business" won't guarantee behaviour change -- but it will increase the odds that it may happen. There's a wide semantic difference between "information" and "business technology" -- wide enough to at least signal that significant change is expected...

You know you're a CBTO when...

Microsoft (or any other technology partner) is not the first (or even the second) solution that pops into your head when you have a business issue/opportunity you are pursuing. I actually like the name "Chief Marketing Technologist" as described here: - as it puts the meaning behind the purpose first.


CIOs drive business impact

George - your post is right on and is certainly a good reflection of what we are seeing.

CIOs that focus on the business impact their group has to the bottom line will find that the organization reward them further too (increasingly we are seeing CIOs being promoted to CEO or COO positions as the result of the leadership and business value they are bringing holistically to the organization, not just their IT group).

Accountability and vision have a lot to do with this. We've seen CIOs signing up for 'business metrics' not directly related to IT performance for instance. This pushes the IT organization to think across the enteprise and the relationship between IT performance and the company's overall business performance.

I also agree with Joseph. The title is important but the approach is what's matter (the debates on the CIO name have been popular from changing the "I" to "Innovation" to getting rid of the acronym all together).

Finally, I'd like to point you to a new resource that highlights this type of leadership @

Check out the 3 min video of Kevin Turner (former Walmart's CIO) and his thinking on Business Technology @

Bruno Aziza

Interesting article. I would

Interesting article. I would change the title to read CTO instead of CIO myself :) I came from an organization where the technology area was called 'Business Technology'. However changing the name didnt change the attitude as mentioned by others here. I think the attitude change has to reflect a more business value driven focus rather than what we call these leaders or their teams. IT can be just as successful if the leadership within that organization promotes this sort of thinking. This is something we are striving for in my organization. Great read.

Death Of The CIO, Birth Of The CBTO

If we are talking about acronyms - CIO vs. CBTO, then I would consider adding Intelligence to the new title. Therefore the title will become CBITO (Chief Business Intelligence & Technology Officer). The emphasis being on Business Intelligence (internal within an organization and external, i.e. outside the organization). In this case technology becomes an enabler.

Sulaiman Afzal

Amen to this point made by

Amen to this point made by Bruno Aziza -
Accountability and vision have a lot to do with this. We've seen CIOs signing up for 'business metrics' not directly related to IT performance for instance. This pushes the IT organization to think across the enteprise and the relationship between IT performance and the company's overall business performance.

The ultimate CBTO is personally accountable for the success of the entire organization not "just his part."

You know you're a CBTO if ...

.. you think business globally and act technology locally.

It should be all about the 'I' and not the 'T'

Personally I don't like CBTO as a replacement for CIO because the emphasis is too much on the technology and not the information that the technology is processing. CBTO sound fine as a replacement for CTO or VP / Director of Technology, where a business has both.

However as too many CIO's become de facto "VP of Technology" with too much emphasis on technical infrastructure and not enough emphasis on the business focused outcomes (see Bob Boiko's book: "Laughing at the CIO") then they may well morph into this new title.

In the end, if its all 'T' and no 'I' your going to fail anyway........

There's no oneway street named "Business Street"

Coming from the CTO/CIO world, I find the problems as just the opposite of what is cited in this blog post. I find that most CXX types do not understand the fundamentals of technology so, at times, in the situation, it could appear as the CIO or CTO is placing a techbabble-pacifier in the mouth of all executives when technology decisions need to be made. It's a two-way street!