Unscrew Your Light Bulb!

Unscrew Your LightbulbRollin Ford has one of the toughest CIO jobs on the planet. He leads a global IT team in one of the world’s largest companies by revenue and employees, a company that has earned a reputation for leadership in supply chain that has allowed it to dominate its markets. Yet Wal-Mart is constantly under pressure to maintain its leadership position. In the US, Target has become a fierce competitor, while in the UK, Tesco may have overtaken Wal-Mart in supply-chain leadership, with Tesco's move into the US watched closely by Wal-Mart.

Earlier this year, Ford sat on a CIO panel discussing IT’s role in innovation. His thoughts on innovation also touched on strategy and alignment. He suggested that innovation starts with the customer, then leads into a business strategy, and then it gets enabled by technology. However, he acknowledges, “there are very few secrets out there.” Ford suggests that the only competitive advantage over time is the speed at which your organization can implement and leverage innovative ideas: “Your organization has to embrace change and new technologies, and that becomes your model. It’s about getting from A to B and doing it quicker than everybody else.”

Read more

How Well Do You Understand Your Business And IT Strategy?

Whether you are a CEO, CIO, IT employee, or working outside of IT, you have some level of understanding of your organization’s strategy. At least that’s what I believe. But how much do you understand? To find out we’re conducting research across the enterprise to see how well employees understand business strategy and whether they have any idea about the IT strategy or even the IT architecture strategy.

As a reader of this blog, I know you are an innovative thinker and business-savvy — I’m hoping you will please take five minutes now or later today to help out our research by taking part in this survey, no matter where you work or what your role is. Even if you cannot take the survey, you can still help by sharing a link to this post (http://bit.ly/cioblog29) with friends, colleagues, and associates who you think may be interested in the results.

 The survey examines a number of aspects of business and IT strategy, such as:

  • How well defined and understood is the business & IT strategy?
  • How well understood are the measures of strategy success?
  • What time horizons are most common for strategic planning?
  • Frequency of planning updates
  • The perception of IT (from inside IT and from outside IT)
  • The maturity of enterprise architecture planning
  • Social technology strategy

I'll be writing future blog posts here based upon the data we gather as well as sending participants a summary of the results. 

Read more

Why CEOs Should Stop Limiting IT Budgets

CEOs should stop limiting IT budgetsAs CEOs put IT budgets under pressure year after year, CIOs and their teams focus on balancing money spent on running the business (RTB) versus money spent on growing the business (GTB). By decreasing the percentage of their budget spent on maintenance and ongoing operations (RTB), they aim to have a greater share of their budget to spend on projects that grow the business. In the best IT organizations, the ratio can sometimes approach 50:50 — however, a more typical ratio is 70% RTB and 30% GTB.

Unfortunately, such practices suggest an incremental budget cycle — one that looks at the prior year’s spend to determine the next year’s budget. While this may be appropriate for the RTB portion of the IT budget, it is far from ideal for the GTB portion. Incremental budgeting for GTB results in enormous tradeoffs being made as part of the IT governance process, with steering committees making decisions on which projects can be funded based upon the IT and business strategy. Anyone from outside of IT who has worked through IT governance committees understands just how challenging that process can be. And the ultimate result of such tradeoffs is that sometimes valuable projects go unfunded or shadow-IT projects spring up to avoid the process altogether.

How CEOs Can Get More Value From IT

Read more

Jive Looks To Play With The Big Fish

This week, Jive Software, a leading player in social technology, announced it has closed $30 million in Series C financing, with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) joining Sequoia Capital as the company’s venture investors.

So what does this mean for CIOs and IT, the custodians of enterprise technology architecture?

It is clear Jive wants to play with the big boys in the enterprise software space. To date, many Jive deployments have not involved IT. This ability to deploy its technology without IT’s involvement has no doubt helped Jive to this point. Of course, having market-leading functionality hasn't hurt. (Jive has featured highly in recent Forrester Wave reports).

At the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, I sat down with Jive’s new CEO, Tony Zingale, to explore the company strategy. From our discussion, it was apparent that Jive intends to compete for a big slice of the enterprise collaboration marketplace. Fundamentally, this is the right direction for Jive, but I foresee some big challenges for the company along the way.

Read more

What Do Business Strategy And Formula One Racing Have In Common?

Many companies are at the height of the IT strategic-planning season. For some, this is an annual ritual tied to the budgeting process. For others, this is part of a long-range planning process, with an annual review to check on progress. Still other CIOs are approaching the development of an IT strategy as an integral part of an ever-evolving business strategy, with regular adjustments as the business units flex and respond to market changes. Whatever your perspective, it’s apparent that in the past executives outside of IT have given scant attention to the machinations of the IT strategy — but this is surely changing.

The operational performance of any business unit is now so heavily dependent upon the effective and efficient deployment of appropriate technology that planning a business strategy without also planning technology strategy is like planning to win Formula One without any telemetry. You can’t even get to the starting grid.

Read more

Ten Tips From The Enterprise 2.0 Conference

This year’s Boston Enterprise 2.0 Conference highlighted good examples of how companies are tapping into social technologies to empower their employees. For example, Mitre Corporation showed how they have successfully developed a collaboration community using open source technology. The platform they developed enables them to deliver secure access to ideas, discussions and content for employees and guests. Meanwhile, CSC showed how they have driven greater collaboration across 49,000 of their employees in just 18 months, with a strategy focused on connect, communicate and collaborate. (Those of us in the audience even witnessed the in-field promotion of Claire Flanagan, CSC senior manager for knowledge management and enterprise social collaboration, to director – congratulations Claire!)

Among a number of great speakers, JP Rangaswami, CTO & chief scientist at BT Design, opened the conference with a powerful speech that was supported by an innovative approach to real-time animation of content – alas, while the speech was good, the visuals were distracting for many in the room. JP suggested that the age of the locked-down desktop is coming to an end, “enterprises must design for loss of control.” Re-iterating a refrain from George Colony, who suggests “bits want to be free,” JP advised, “if you don’t want it shared, don’t put it on a computer.”

Read more

How Socially Mature Is Your Organization?

We recently embarked on a Forrester-wide research project to benchmark the use of social technologies across enterprise organizations. Why is this important? Well, as you may know, we cover social technologies from a wide range of perspectives — from roles in marketing to IT to technology professionals. We find each of these roles differs in its general “social maturity” and that most companies are experiencing pockets of success, but few, if any, are successfully implementing it across the board. In fact, full maturity in this space could take years, but there are clear differences in how some ahead-of-the-curve companies are using social technologies for business results. In fact, at this point it has been clearly established by many people (including us many times over) that social technologies as transformative tools that are changing the way companies do business. So we’re not talking as much about the opportunity social presents, but rather we are trying to determine the current reality of practitioners. It’s also clear that many companies have made tremendous strides in planning and organizing for the use of social technologies. However, the one question we consistently get is: “where is my organization compared to others in the use of social media?”  We want to benchmark these companies to see if we can answer questions like:

  • How do you define “social maturity” and why is it important to get there?
  • Which companies are ahead of the curve in implementing social technologies for both external use (i.e., for customers/consumers) and/or internal use (i.e., for employees/partners)?
  • What have been the biggest drivers of success?
  • What are the biggest challenges?
  • What steps do most organizations need to take and why?

Here’s how you can help:

Read more

Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose: Motivation For Your IT Staff

A recent email got my attention. It highlighted a blog post on the MIT Technology Review website about a video from RSA Animate (copied below) illustrating a lecture by Dan Pink (@danielpink on Twitter): "The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us," based on his book of the same name.

What got my attention? We need to stop rewarding with a carrot and threatening with a stick. The video highlights multiple research findings that suggest knowledge workers are more motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose than by financial reward. Pink suggests that financial incentives may actually have a detrimental impact on performance under certain circumstances.  (The research suggests money is a motivator for purely mechanical tasks but as soon as some level of cognitive processing is required to complete the task, money is secondary to other factors.)

Read more

Does Your Organization Have A Great Internal/External Social Community?

Each year we conduct a search for the best examples of social media/social communities as part of our search for winners of the prestigious Forrester Groundswell Awards. This year we have added a new category of award aimed at internal communities designed to help management with innovation and/or collaboration across the organization — communities that empower employees.

In the fall I’ll be helping my colleague, Ted Schadler — co-author of the upcoming book Empowered — to judge the winners of the management category. So if you have a social community or social media success story please consider nominating your firm for one or more categories in this year’s awards.

Find out how to submit your nomination through the Forrester Groundswell blog here.

If you are a vendor and helping a client implement a social community you may nominate your client with their permission.

Good luck!

Put Your IT Staff Through Sales Training

I was recently asked about the importance of selling skills for CIOs - does a CIO need to be a good salesperson? It seems to me the answer to this should be a resounding yes. After all, IT executives need to be able to sell themselves effectively in order to attain the heights of the C-Suite. Great CIOs must be great communicators, capable of delivering a compelling presentation or a memorable speech, and inspiring others to follow them.

But what of sales skills beyond being a good presenter? Since many sales skills are focused on understanding people and connecting with them, I've found sales training to be highly effective on two levels:

  • Developing better listening skills. One of the first things you learn as a salesperson is not how to make a pitch, but how to listen to a customer - only by listening can a good salesperson effectively satisfy the needs of a prospect/customer.
  • Understanding how products/services meet the customer needs. Salespeople spend a lot of time learning about a firm's products and services; they learn how they meet the various customer needs and they learn how to present them in the best light.

So go ahead and sign up for the next sales training class being run in your organization - you may be pleasantly surprised!

Are CIOs the only people in IT needing sales skills?

I'd like to make the case for putting everyone in IT through sales training - here's why:

Read more