Bring focus to your emerging-tech strategy using three key business initiatives

CIOs — seduced by the breadth of emerging alternatives and energised by the ever-present drumbeat urging IT to be more innovative — are actively seeking opportunities to apply new technologies. However, the pursuit of these technologies is often only opportunistic, looking for innovative one-off applications of technologies like asset identity, video analysis, or pattern recognition. By implementing these point-solution tech investments, CIOs not only miss strategic business opportunities, they also hinder their companies' business performance by introducing inconsistent customer experiences, increased risk, and vendor lock-in.

But CIOs shouldn't get mired-down in point solutions. Today's emerging technologies can provide a coherent set of building blocks with which CIOs pursue their firms' business strategies. Forrester calls this Smart Computing (read Forrester analysis on Smart Computing): the convergence of tech-driven opportunities resulting in better business execution. When CIOs work with the other business leaders in their firms to strategically apply Smart Computing technologies, their companies are able to succeed at three key business initiatives:

1. Balancing enterprisewide/global synergies against local differentiation

Companies are increasingly looking for enterprise-wide synergies — driven by global competition, customer's demand for consistency, and the ever-present need to control costs. CIOs are helping to define technologies and methodologies to identify common processes, develop common approaches, and monitor and tune them for optimum results.

2. Sourcing business services from everywhere

Pervasive technology use increasingly results in business organisations taking action to source new tech-based business services, frequently without IT's direct control or even involvement — what Forrester calls business technology (BT). CIOs are broadening IT's ability to enable users enterprisewide to source business services from other companies — like sales force automation, rate optimisation, and direct marketing campaigns.

3. Competing in Digital Business Networks (DBNs)

Not only are firms sourcing business services from everywhere, but they are themselves competing as part of DBNs — value chains of functions and firms linked digitally. The ability to apply a business capability like manufacturing for both internal use and external revenues relies on flexible integration technologies.

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