by Dan Muse

CIOs Must Put Customers First in Business Technology Decisions

Oct 31, 20144 mins
CIOIT Leadership

While CIOs have always needed to keep tabs on new technology, disruptive technologies are now driving your business. If you have any doubt, just ask your customers. In a report released today, Forrester identifies 15 technologies that will drive business decisions through 2020.

customers first
Credit: Thinkstock

CIOs who don’t stay up on emerging technologies, may find their careers on the way down.

While CIOs have always needed to keep tabs on new technology, disruptive technologies are now driving the business. If you have any doubt just asked your customers.

In the age of the customer, businesses are relying on emerging technologies to help them increase revenue, improve customer experiences and deal with disruption, according to a report released today by Forrester.

As technology becomes more customer-facing and those customers become more demanding, CIOs can’t risk not having emerging technology high on their agenda. In “The Top Emerging Technologies Through 2020 — The CIO Perspective,” Frank E. Gillett and Brian Hopkins identify 15 emerging technologies that CIOs need to understand and adopt. Forrester puts those 15 technologies into four groups:

      • Business innovation platforms: Forrester writes that while the market does not currently offer solutions that deliver all the technology in a single package today, four categories of technology convergence will result in packaged solution innovation: Customer analytics, digital experience solutions, customer-driven design and Internet of Things.
      • Interaction platforms: New interaction technologies are changing the way businesses are engaging with customers and employees, according to Forrester. Three categories of emerging technologies are moving to expand human-computer interaction beyond PCs, mobile devices and displays: Next-generation connectivity, wearable technology and  natural computer interfaces.
      • Aggregation and delivery platforms: Forrester defines these platforms as having the capability to amass information your customers need and deliver insights at the point of decision across all channels. These technologies include real-time data sourcing and delivery, advanced analytics, digital identity management, and software acceleration platforms and tools.
      • Infrastructure and context platforms: Four emerging technology categories make up the bottom of the platform stack for business technology. Forrester says these provide a flexible, high-performance infrastructure for managing the applications and data to understand customer context and adapt to changes:  advanced silicon devices, software-defined infrastructure, cloud integration and big data management.

CIOs, Forrester writes, historically haven’t tracked emerging technology closely because they have been mainly responsible for keeping the infrastructure running, reducing operating costs and managing new projects. However, from server virtualization to tablets, technology disruptions have been erupting for 20 years, Forrester says. The difference —  and the cause for greater urgency — is that now your business success is tied to how well you understand, deliver and manage emerging technologies. 

The Secret of How CIOs Can Drive Business Success

Between now and 2020, Forrester says CIOs can help their business succeed by implementing emerging technologies to achieve four key objectives: transform the customer experience, accelerate your digital business, embrace the mobile mind shift and turn big data into business insight.

emerging tech intro 1500 Forrester

Forrester’s view of how CIOs should approach business technology decisions between now and 2020. 

Tracking and exploring emerging technologies is one part of the CIO’s job.  However driving business innovation and value is tricky because investments in these areas, Forrester reports, often falls between incremental change, typically funded through annual planning, and radical change, funded by the board of directors. CIOs must investigate and drive emerging technology projects as part of sustained innovation that fits in between the two.

To accomplish this CIOs need to focus on these areas:

“CIOs should crowdsource ideas from customers and bring partners and suppliers into deeper business collaboration. The CIO should also tap university researchers and participate in government policy deliberations to stay ahead of the challenges created by emerging technologies,” Forrester writes.

“With a clear view of the customer requirements from the analysis of customer journeys,” Forrester says, “CIOs and their business partners can cut through the politics and prioritize the required emerging technology investments to better service the customer in a multichannel world.”

Finally, Forrester says, “Business innovation is the product of networks of firms that play different roles in value creation and business process. CIOs should actively map and manage the role their firm plays relative to others as inventors of new things, transformers of ideas into offerings, financiers of new ideas, and brokers that match up participants or create markets.”