Modern CEOs are as much a force of disruption to your organisation as market forces, George Colony, himself a CEO at Forrester warned attending CIOs at the research company’s IT Forum EMEA. Colony said the role of the CEO today is to not only ensure the lights are on all the time, but to challenge the company so that it will innovate.

Colony has spent the last 12 months interviewing a wide range of CEOs and asking them what their “success imperatives” are. He distilled this down to a list of seven, which cover every imperative shared with the Forrester; these include: getting and keeping the best people; collaboration, reaching global markets, increasing profits; building a positive culture; customers and innovation. A series of buzz words and terms were shared with Colony about the CEOs role in “embracing disruption”. Pointing to his list, Colony asked attending CIOs what was missing. “No CEO mentioned technology,” he said, adding that IT has moved to become BT – business technology. “The list of seven does not include technology, it is technology,” he said. “Your success imperatives must link with this list.”

“The CEO is trying to retain stability, but they also stand for disruption and destruction, which is deep change. The clocks have to work, trains must run on time, but we must also change,” Colony said.

“Innovation and transformation are the two most over-used words in the world,” Simon Yates, vice president and research director of Forrester said. “Your CEO wants it from you and they want it badly because there are so many pressures facing them from economic forces, rising gas prices etc, that investors are going to be less patient. Innovation is the answer for all businesses.”

Although CIOs were heralded as being well placed to be the innovators of organisations, Forrester research director Alex Cullen warned that the latest wave of technology is set to pose a threat to CIOs and their departments. “Technology is moving beyond the traditional IT model, which is that technology is complex, hard to assemble and operate and requires specialists.” He cited cloud computing and Web 2.0 technology as clear examples of functionality departments can use that require no involvement from the IT department. “IT is burdened by a legacy of operating concerns which takes a lot of time to manage and to find the skills.”

According to Cullen, cloud and Web 2.0 are a “resurgence of shadow computing”, alluding to the software that was downloaded in the past and then required the CIO's team to fix. This time with Web 2.0 and software as service models the CIO's team is not required, as maintenance is included in the packages that this technology comes with. Examples Cullen has seen include banking group Lloyds using Google maps.

Cullen said that CIOs can prove their worth with innovation driven from the existing technology and services the organisation has. He cited German travel operator TUI, which recently launched a system that allowed its retail staff to log on to the call centre phone system and take calls when the retail side of the business is slow. The result has been decreased pressure on the call centre and increased customer service.

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