Yesterday final CIO Leadership Session finished in Phoenix wrapping up sessions in Dubai and London. Each session concentrated on regional challenges from expanding growth in the gulf, to addressing macro economic realities in Europe and leading in times of transition in the Americas.
Regardless of location, CIOs around the world face a new set of business and technology challenges.
The business challenges pull IT in multiple directions, taxing their ability to find ways of working that drive effectiveness and efficiency in the following areas
- Supporting revenue growth, as enterprises need to find and secure their top line revenues and budgets. CIOs at forum reported following multiple strategies for growth ranging from opening new mobile channels and geographies to consolidating systems and interfaces to make it easier to do business.
- Attracting and retaining customers form the key to the business strategies as customers not only provide a stable source of revenue, but also provide a key in ongoing consolidation decisions. Thinking about the customer experience provides a rubric for making multiple complex and unclear decisions about operations, products, services, etc.
- Reducing and controlling costs is a necessity regardless of the economy. It was interesting to see how this business objective was shared from the Gulf region, through Europe and North America. The past five years have been times for cost reduction, today we see CIOs looking at approaches for cost elimination with a suggested focus on finding the distortions in their business.
Technology plays an increasingly important role in the enterprise. By technology, CIOs were talking about things like mobile, analytics, big data and cloud that have the potential for greater external impact than the ‘management’ systems we traditionally associated with IT. Technology is greater than IT, and than is driving initiatives in several of the following areas:
- Customer Experience through the combination of new channel technologies like mobile, big data, analytics and business process reform all to deliver more than an easy to use web site and great ‘after the failure’ markup service.
- Mobility redefined from its origins in mobile or mCommerce with a focus on the availability of systems into a new platform for revenue, retention and efficiency. Mobile investments are on the rise as most seek to become industry leaders, creating an opportunity for innovation and generating executive envy.
- Big Data involving the emergence of new levels of information, insight and potential gained through the analysis and exploitation of information.
- Cloud, giving the scale, reach and economies of scale to drive service delivery and economics of new information intensive solutions.
Combined, these business priorities and technology initiative define a ‘new hotness’ for technology. The term from the movie Men in Black 2, refers to “J” played by Will Smith who refers to the new and cool way of doing his job. “J” compares his ‘new hotness’ to his partner “K” who is experienced and played by Tommy Lee Jones. Where “J” is new hotness, “K” is ‘old and busted.” K – old and busted stands his ground in the scene, leading J to redefine their relationship as “old busted hotness” creating an opportunity for some humor.
The question is, does ‘old busted hotness’ describe the future of IT. A future where what was once cool becomes cold, old and functional. It is possible. CIOs who treat these business priorities and technologies as the same old thing are the epitome of ‘old and busted’.
The reason I ask is that there are “J”’s swirling around these technologies. J’s in marketing, J’s in sales, J’s in the cloud, J’s in service providers. All of these J’s offering the new hotness to the business. How we as CIOs respond to those offers and the choice they contain will determine where we land and how we compromise. “Old busted hotness” does not sound like a desirable destination.
These are but a few of the items discussed at the CIO Leadership Forums. For the more than 800 CIOs attending, my personal thanks and best wishes for success in 2012.