Enterprise Startups Draw CIO Attention

As venture-capital firms focus more on customer-facing technologies, CIOs are placing bets on emerging enterprise IT players.

By Adam Dennison
Wed, June 26, 2013

CIO — It's an exciting time to be a CIO. Technology is increasingly seen as a primary business driver, an engine of innovation and a true competitive advantage for many companies. Although the influx of consumer devices and the general consumerization of IT certainly create challenges in terms of process, policy and security, overall, the CIOs I speak with look quite favorably upon this whole trend.

More often than not, consumerization elevates the importance of technology within CIOs' enterprises. As we saw in our annual State of the CIO research earlier this year, CIOs are trimming spending on core systems like CRM and ERP in order to invest more in customer-engaging technologies.

The great news there is that venture funding continues to flow into technology startups that focus on the enterprise rather than the consumer. Even some companies that started in the consumer market--like Dropbox or YouSendIt--are now aiming at the enterprise with new tools and controls more suitable to corporate business.

At CIO, we're working on ways to strengthen the connections between you and startup enterprise players. Last February, we used one of our partnerships to bring 12 CIOs into the headquarters of a top Silicon Valley venture-capital firm for a daylong meeting with 10 startups, most of which were in the data-management and analytics markets. The feedback I heard from those CIOs afterward was outstanding. They felt the day was a worthy use of their valuable time as they met with fledgling companies and learned about the advantages these new products might provide to their organizations. They were free to ask hard questions about go-to-market strategies, competitors and specifics about how these new technologies would integrate into current architectures--or what systems they might replace entirely.

Recently I met again with four of our CIO participants from that day and learned that two of them are signing agreements with two of the presenting vendors. Neither CIO had heard of these new players before our meeting; now they are ready to place bets on these new players.

We'll soon be doing a second round of this intimate event, outside Silicon Valley, in locales where CIOs have fewer opportunities to make these kinds of connections. If you think you and your local network of IT leaders would value something like this, I'd love to hear from you, so please drop me a note.

Adam Dennison is the publisher of CIO magazine. Email him at ADennison@cio.com.

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