CIOs and IT from across Europe gather in Barcelona this week to discuss the future of business, leadership and technology in the context of a changing economic and political environment. The nuance and complexity associated with these challenges make this year’s European Symposium a singular event. Business, leadership and technology provide a context for the discussions this week in Barcelona.
- Business conditions in Europe and around the world remain challenging. We are four years into the economic crisis facing continued declines in economic activity within Europe decoupled to some extent from economic activity in other regions.
- Leadership requires going beyond the plans to ride out the crisis and wait for the recovery that is already more than four years in the waiting. Leadership involves acknowledging current conditions and taking actions now and for the future that go beyond holding on.
- Technology provides a means for leaders to transform business. New mobile, social and other technologies are markedly different than old IT technologies such as ERP, CRM or SCM. The differences in technologies and their potential is the focus of this year’s symposium and the need for organizations to focus, connect and lead.
Business strategies need to change. Leadership requires innovation beyond incremental improvement. Technology is greater than IT. Technology gives everyone the opportunity to amplify the enterprise and re-imagine IT.
It would be easy to continue cutting IT costs and accelerating the devaluation of IT. Such short-term solutions reflect old answers to old questions.
The challenge facing executives goes beyond managing the balance between cost and revenue, but to find new sources of revenue. That is the reason why the fundamental question facing organizations is:
How will technology support growth?
Responding to this new question requires new answers that go beyond managing cost to creating value.
That statement sounds inspiration and could be interpreted as irrational in the face of continued economic crisis, but the question provokes answers and actions required to make progress. How technology will support growth needs to replace the prior questions regarding IT cost control.
The reason for this strategy is simple. While technology is perhaps the most global of industries, the context since the start of the global financial crisis has been decidedly regional and local. Nowhere is this more evident than in Europe. As one European CIO told me “Europe is forever” meaning that it is only a matter of time, restructuring and hard work before Europe recovers. But in the mean time, opportunity lies beyond national and EU borders and that is where leaders will need to go and where technology must take them.
CIOs and IT leaders face are complex growing increasingly complicated situation that creates a perfect storm for their organizations and future strategies.
- Growth remains a critical concern, despite economic uncertainty and volatility. That growth will come from moving beyond borders particularly into India, Asia and Latin America. Generating growth outside the home country will require different approaches to IT.
- The Nexus of Forces, the focus of this year’s symposium, reflects an expanding innovation frontier for the enterprise and the individual. Mobility, Social Media, Information and Cloud represent an entirely different paradigm and portfolio of opportunities. How an organizations use these technologies to build their digital edges will determine their future. Technology is no longer back office and operational it s now front office and strategic to revenue.
- IT no longer has a monopoly on Technology. That is one of the critical differences between technology and IT. Internally, technology investments by marketing, supply chain, product development, etc. go beyond the idea of shadow IT. At the same time, external ‘cloud based’ technology services represent an alternative to owner, tailored and operated IT. Business has choice and that influences IT, it is the source of consumerization in technology.
- Effectiveness matters, now more than ever. A change in technology relevance requires a change in IT performance. While CIOs have done a good job managing the cost and quality of IT, a future based on these lighter weight technologies requires a different style of IT. A style of IT that delivers speed, scale and choice. The more effective the IT organization, the greater its participation in creating value through the digital technologies associated with the Nexus.
Demands for growth outside of traditional markets coupled with new nexus technologies all implemented via technology competitors from within and outside the enterprise all at a time when IT performance matters more than ever. Those are the forces that shape the context for CIOs in general and European CIOs in particular. The issues generated by these forces are the subject of the presentations, interactive sessions and discussions that have drawn several thousand CIOs and IT leaders to Barcelona.
Welcome to Barcelona and perhaps the most interesting and challenging Symposium ever.