Four BT Lessons

IT at Forrester is now called Business Technology (BT). The head of BT is the Chief Business Technology Officer (CBTO). Farewell to IT and the CIO.

Big deal -- a few words changed. But did it make a difference?

Yes -- in four simple ways.

1) The job search. In the CBTO job search, we got better candidates than expected. Why? They loved the new title and the focus on business, not just tech. We got high level applicants because CBTO was aspirational.

2) Business focus. We viewed CBTO candidates through a new lens, pushing us to hire high. We were looking for people who had worked to increase revenue, profit, and market share of companies. We wanted someone who understood that a CBTO doesn't serve the business -- they are the business.

3) Regime change. Once the CBTO was hired, he was able to launch a new regime -- IT is dead, now it's time for BT. This enabled him to set new goals for the technology team, redefine the relationship between technology and business, and re-invigorate the people who work in technology at Forrester.

4) A new yardstick. It introduced new standards for technology. Old IT was about uptime. BT is about: agility, speed, being bullet-proof, customer-centricity, and business-centricity. 

Our research has shown that CEOs do not trust their CIOs to innovate or build business process. My direct experience is that changing one letter from "I" to "B" is a good start toward building that trust. Words do matter. Try it.


Perhaps the transition,

Perhaps the transition, across the whole profession, is taking longer than anticipated due to the fact that changing leadership is only the first step in a very long process. Maybe when all the key employees in the legacy IT organization believe that they too are part of this transition will you be able to claim a victory.

I say this not to take-away anything from your top-down accomplishment (kudos are deserved), but just to suggest that the missing item #5 on your list -- "changing routine behavior" by IT employees -- may become the ultimate test of the final result of your transition.

David Deans
Business Technology Roundtable

What routines would you change?

If #5 is to change the routines of people in tech, what would those routines be? How would they work differently? What would they stop doing? What would they start doing?

What to Start and Stop

Start each new project with a truly open mind (no bias), regarding the TCO equation (in-source or cloud service).

Stop enforcing outdated IT support processes (manageability) that benefit support staff at the expense of business user needs (just-in-time agility).

IT is Toast

IT is Toast

The toast won't be ready for a while...

In some slow-growing industries like food or retail, companies can probably stick with the old IT approach for three to five more years and be OK. But if you're in a dynamic business like financial or media, you won't be able to survive running IT -- you must get to BT or risk growth, profitability, and market share...

Business Technology

George, I am not too fond of the new name, but I have seen over the last couple of years many CIO's being hired who had NO IT background at all. But yes, old IT was about uptime, lowest possible cost and frozen code. The new name will not change anything because whether the new (or old) broom will sweep any better purely depends on the LOB and the executive allowing him/her to sweep where necessary.

The new BT is about facilitation of human interaction in business. But you can't push a rope and therefore the change has to be focused on the business getting technology they really find attractive. Once they do they will be pulling ... and BT must be being willing to follow.
Regards, Max

Follow or lead?

I don't consider this to be a follow or lead situation. BT means tech and business are walking toward the future together...


George: I applaud this move and hope to see it become a trend in other companies. But there was a most critical first step; an essential precursor to this change. The CEO had to take a new perspecticve on what this job entailed and the kind of person who should fill the role.

See my recent blog post:

The BT Journey

Great work George, 100% agree – I can’t advocate enough the value to both your business and your technology team in shifting to a BT oriented technology department.

The BT journey is something that I'm in the midst of and is one that over the last 12 months is fundamentally changing the how our technology department thinks as well as changing the perceptions of our business in understanding the capability of technology and the part it plays in winning in the markets we compete in.

As a side note I’d really appreciate your thoughts on the blog I’ve recently started on the topic. -


Words That Work...

"It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear!" Very true in this case. It is amazing how simple "words" can make ALL the difference.

Maybe "B" should stand for "Bottom Line"

I like the change. I often tell technology project teams that all of the great work they are doing is a complete loss (in monetary terms) until the business uses it to to increase revenue or reduce costs. That's hard to swallow, but it's true. We are doing this stuff for a reason, not because it fun or interesting.

Also, anything that raises awareness that business and technology are no longer separate is headed in the right direction. Sometimes business leaders act like they are victims of technology in lieu of owning it. They need to ride the horse (it's a tool) and not get drug by it.

I look forward to reading more about Forrester's transition.


Is there really a practical difference between a focus on up-time and on "being bullet-proof"?

Ready for quicker move to BT in 2012?

This "We made the move, you can too" case is powerful. You've said elsewhere that the move to BT has been taking longer than you expected. This year, thanks largely to you and Forrester, I'm bullish on BT ... "5 Indicators that the IT-to-BT Move Will be Faster in 2012"