When Pega invited me to attend the conference, I took a quick glance at the agenda and thought that it said that George Clooney would be speaking. I immediately accepted. On second look, I noticed that it was actually George Colony, founder and CEO of Forrester Research.
The somewhat less famous George talked about business technology (BT) in the format of 8 things that he would tell your CEO over coffee:
- It’s not Information Technology any more, it’s Business Technology. As he pointed out, you can’t separate business and technology in most businesses, and what we’re now calling “IT” is an inherent, critical part of business.
- To get BT right, you need four players: you (the CEO) + technology-knowledgeable business executives (TKBE) + CIO + a techie on the board. It’s no longer cool for a CEO or any business executive to not understand at least some basics of the technology that runs their business, and a techie on the board of directors will help to drive that agenda.
- Process + Organization + Technology. He stated it as when technology changes, process and organization must also change, but it’s clear that when you change any one of these, the other two will have to change: these three are always involved in technology implementations.
- Technology has changed your customer, and your customer will change your business. In particular, the new generation of customers are focused on different channels such as mobile devices and social networking. This is a generalization, of course, since there’s plenty of us older types who are also using these, but Forrester’s surveys are showing trends in the demographics. If you don’t embrace the channels and technology of this generation, then you’ll lose them both as customers and employees.
- Don’t let Hal destroy your business. By “Hal”, he’s referring to the omniscient computer in the 2001: A Space Odyssey; the intent here is that if you can’t let the systems outstrip your understanding, common sense and risk systems. He posits that if more CEOs of financial institutions really understood sub-prime mortgages, then they wouldn’t have allowed the situation to happen at their companies.
- Business Technology will enable one of the most important business models of the next 10 years: Bowties to Diamonds. This refers to the structure of economic models: instead of a vendor tapering off their involvement as a product is delivered, then the customer ramping up their responsibility and involvements, the vendor increases their involvement after the initial sale through ongoing maintenance and follow-on services in more of a partner model. Colony discussed how new technology that enables diamond relationships, particularly SOA (which allows vendor and customer systems to be easily integrated) and the extended internet (which supports the communication between vendor and customer).
- Great marketing + great technology is the only way forward. If these aren’t both great and working together, you can’t effectively dissolve the boundary between you and your customer.
- The only way out of the current financial meltdown is innovation and transformation. Instead of just hunkering down and doing more (or less) of the same, you have to change your business and how you use technology to do it.
He envisions CIOs being absorbed into the business, and eventually more CIOs becoming CEOs, especially in financial services companies.