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CIOs and Top Emerging Technologies: The Challenges Keep on Coming

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A recent report from Forrester Research, Inc. puts a very sharp edge on what will be required of CIOs to drive their organizations’ success through the end of the decade. The October 31, 2014 report, “The Top Emerging Technologies Through 2020 — The CIO Perspective,” lays out its compelling argument for why, in what Forrester has labeled The Age of the Customer, CIOs need to make emerging technologies part of the business technology agenda, in addition to their other responsibilities.

Forrester could have broadened its “Age of the Customer” moniker to include “… and End-point Technologies.” It’s these technologies – tablets, smartphones and other devices used interchangeably — that are the catalyst for this age. The report is an advanced template for engagement with technology-savvy customers to “help ensure that they perceive every interaction with the company to be useful, easy and emotionally rewarding” using technology.

Computer Business Review (CBR) published a summary from the Forrester report of the four groups of 15 technologies that CIOs must factor into their longer-term strategies to win minds and hearts. As much as these should be part of CIOs agenda through the end of the decades, it’s fair to say that many of these technologies will be included in the business technology agenda of the business … marketing, sales and business analytics in particular. The implied message to the CIO is, get on board or get out of the way.

It’s the job of Forrester and other top analyst firms to help clients see and prepare for what lies ahead, to survey the broad technology landscape and recommend avenues for seizing competitive advantage and deconstructing obstacles. This report does that in spades. It’s a good thing, though, that it spans six years. As we have written here frequently, often citing other such analyst reports, studies and analysis, as well as drawing from our own experiences, that today’s CIO is in quite a fix. Even this Forrester report contains a caveat to success: “… if the CIO’s org is ready to help.”

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That’s a big if, given the current state of IT/business transformation. A Google search will kick out volumes of content on topics such as:

CIOs are under the gun on so many fronts. They’re expected to be combinations of technologist, business leader, corporate strategist, service brokers, transformational guru and soothsayer. Expectations are sky high, yet resources are parsed out in parsimonious fashion. Two things are certain: the CIO’s role as services broker and advisor will be increasingly critical to help drive and implement strategy, and cloud computing will be increasingly at the core of the infrastructure that brings it all to life.

Fortunately for CIOs, they are not alone — although no doubt it seems that way on occasion. There are the analyst firms, the business partners and trusted advisors who help CIOs take a long view while also helping them constructively deal with the day-to-day and month-to-month. Without that long view, the actions taken today may actually place IT, business and corporate leadership farther away from where it actually needs to be six years from now.

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