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CIOs, don’t put the cart before the horse

CIOs, don’t put the cart before the horse

While technology can be a great equaliser or accelerator, it can be detrimental if you don’t have the right foundation in place.

We predict a shift away from the AI/blockchain/tech-of-the-day moonshot to a more methodical approach to innovation that focuses on the customer and revenue while utilising metrics to benchmark and improve

Matt Guarini, Forrester

While playing the role of parent, I find that I trot out old tropes like “apply the rules”, “start with the basics,” and “don’t get ahead of yourself” when helping my kids with their homework.

And I find that I get into some of the same conversations when I have the opportunity to engage with IT leaders around the globe. In business today, the customer sets the pace and the business tries to meet it. Too many business leaders look at technology and think of it as the great equaliser or accelerator. While it can be both, the fact is the deployment of technology can be detrimental if you don’t have the right foundation in place. 

For 2019, Forrester predicts that CIOs will focus on providing the proper foundations while taking a measured approach to innovation, where 25 per cent will expand their remit and become true owners of digital business and technology-led innovation, leaving the rest relegated to trusted IT operators.

Yes, the CIO will be counted on for innovation, but Forrester predicts a shift away from the AI/blockchain/tech-of-the-day moonshot to a more methodical approach to innovation that focuses on the customer and revenue while utilising metrics to benchmark and improve. 

The issue is not strictly about the size, scope, or complexity of the CIO’s remit; it’s the diversity and interdependency of the mandate that make this hard. The different priorities of refactoring and automating core systems, putting in place a data governance environment, testing AI technically and operationally, and using technology to differentiate customer experiences are not only complex but also highly interdependent. A divide-and-conquer approach won’t work.

In 2019, more CEOs and CIOs will come to terms with the scope and interdependence of this mandate — and the criticality of its success to the very destiny of their companies. They will agree that one executive — the CIO — will lead and orchestrate this vital effort; CIOs will spend the time to build their leadership teams, empowering trusted operators to handle much of the day-today. Arguably the most important outcome of 2019 is that leading CIOs will build a model that translates tech-led innovation into customer value.

The upshot is that successful CIOs will be seen as rising stars

Matt Guarini, Forrester

To deliver, though, CIOs will need to recognise that their ability to innovate is stunted by a foundation that is anything but flexible or agile. Forrester predicts that growth in back-office technology will accelerate, hitting 5 per cent as CIOs deliver a customer-obsessed operating model that is fast, connected, and insights-driven. 

The upshot is that successful CIOs will be seen as rising stars. Forrester predicts that this will create significant movement in the marketplace as these top CIOs are enticed by new opportunities and look for new challenges. Further, there will be a host of CIOs who will flood the market, as a lack of success will have firms looking for folks who can get the job done. All told, that means up to 20 per cent of companies will be looking for a new CIO in 2019. 

John Wooden, the famed UCLA basketball coach once said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

As you look to 2019, get those details in place for your foundation, and your ability to change the future of your company through technology will surge. 

Matt Guarini is vice president, research director at Forrester.

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