CIOs: 5 Steps To Take Digital Disruption From Theory To Reality

As CIOs, we all know digital disruption is happening at a rampant rate. The challenge we face is moving it from theory to reality. An executive at a client company recently posed the following questions to me: “How do you actually innovate and defend against this digital disruption without blowing up the budget? How do you really do that?”

For me, there are definitely a few steps that take this often discussed CIO requirement from the abstract to the concrete:

Are you close to your customers?
Everyone has customers of some kind, including B2B. Do you know where the pain points are in your customer experience? Where the opportunities are to innovate? You’ve got to understand this dynamic and the best way to start that is with customer journey mapping.  Follow it up by  keeping this “conversation” going by leading or staying involved in a regular customer testing and feedback effort or program. Above all, get out and talk to customers!

Can you innovate on your own mainstream platforms, quick and dirty?
If you can’t innovate easily on your major internal platforms — weeks or days, not months for moderately/small-sized innovations — digital disruptors and likely your direct competitors both have a significant leg up on you. This year alone, we’ve launched 35 small-to-medium, innovative improvements to our business by taking advantage of our SaaS platform. Business moves too fast to wait for months.

Do you use the same tools that startups use to go fast?
Everyone knows that you can spin up servers on the cheap via Amazon Web Services or the like, but have you thought of turning to WordPress or Wix to build that non-critical website you needed to get out there quickly for $150?, Or is that something you’d never consider?

How about crowdsourced design / development to build up a proof of concept within days? I talked about crowdsourcing in my last blog, but let’s get real specific here. If you haven’t heard of Topcoder and its member community of 800,000+, it’s time to check tools like these out and use them to deliver value to your customers and employees quickly.

Do you have an official program to innovate and try new things with your customers & clients?
Innovation — real, methodical, and deliberate innovation — stands a much better chance of succeeding if it’s part of a C-Level mandate and part of a real, established program. More and more companies have a “Labs” program, and more and more of those companies are exposing those lab experiments to their customers. Check out Zappos Labs, Capital One Labs, & Walmart Labs to name a few. And coming soon, our clients will see Forrester Labs in their browsers!

Do you partner with small innovative companies?
Think partnering with startups is only for small companies? Check out Coca Cola’s “The Bridge” program. It is aggressively seeking out the next startup that will give it the edge over their competition. And that’s the key — every CIO has access to the big, established solutions out there, but in the age of the customer, you have to think as much like a venture capitalist as you do an operator, constantly looking anywhere you can for the competitive edge. I work directly with several VC firms to learn more and keep my “pipeline” of cutting-edge companies flowing.

Finally, take a look at our upcoming Forrester Tech Mixer, scheduled for 10/14 at our headquarters in Cambridge, MA. We’re proactively bringing cutting edge companies to us (and our clients) to help us gain the edge. Are you a Forrester client and interested in attending, or a company interested in participating? Visit the site to learn more and how to reach out to us.

Oh and p.s, we built that site with for $150 ;^)


Measuring Performance

In some of the blogs I have been reading, the next step after innovating around disruption, etc is measuring how it has affected the business. CIO's are now start to put numbers to IT initiatives and how they are creating value for companies. Here is an article I recently read that I found interesting. Enjoy!

Thanks Ken! good to see that

Thanks Ken! good to see that companies are beginning to see that technology is not a cost center anymore - it's the foundation of your business. if not, disruption cometh!

Innovation with Data Management

Steven, thanks for this thoughtful piece - couldn't agree more with the need for enterprises to stay flexible and innovate on their mainstream platforms. We find successful IT teams can support innovative analytics initiatives by their lines of business if they closely study how data is being used in their data warehouses. With this intelligence, IT can map users to data and resources, find under-used assets and better assess the return on current and future data platform investments. In short, by managing data and its infrastructure like a business asset, they invest dollars wisely to innovate with data.

Thank you Kevin - interesting

Thank you Kevin - interesting thoughts on the business value of data


Thanks Steven for a very nice and helpful post where readers come across a new concept that innovation and disruption are similar in that they are both makers and builders.

Thank you for that comment -

Thank you for that comment - builders, indeed!

Disrupt the Natural Order of Things

We are entering into the second industrial revolution and leading the charge into the information age. Joyfully disrupting the natural order of things and embracing the change that is "The Internet if Things". Stay nimble, hungry for success, and scale up at every juncture.