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Forrester, the marketing research and analysis firm, has released its annual roundup of predictions for the year ahead, and they’re forecasting that 2019 will see big changes in the role CIOs play in their companies.
Forrester predicts that C-suite executives will move to give CIOs greater ownership over driving technological business innovations. They expect 1 in 4 CIOs to step up and expand the scope of their responsibilities, with the rest serving as what amounts to IT department heads.
Michael Barnes, Vice President and Research Director of Digital Strategy at Forrester, summed it up at a recent company event: “We expect to see CEOs and CIOs mutually agree that the CIO needs to take ownership for driving digital business innovation and technology-led innovation within the firm. It’s time for CIOs to step up. Twenty-five percent of CIOs will expand their remits, and take more control over digital business. The rest will be relegated to a trusted operator.”
Forrester’s analytics indicate that most executives believe technological innovations to be crucial to developing new revenue streams in the years to come. Barnes laid out the actions he would expect to see from successful CIOs in the digital marketplace:
Align innovations and initiatives with strategic goals
Rely on vendors for innovation IP as a stepping stone
Move toward continuous planning and improvement
Barnes went on to emphasise the need to embrace more formal processes for assessing the value of emergent technologies, such as artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things, and to find more effective ways to implement platform-based innovations.
“At a fundamental level,” said Barnes, “that requires the people evaluating the technology to be business leaders. You also need to seed innovation in the firm.”
Barnes cited organisational inertia as a major obstacle to embracing necessary changes, along with a lack of clear and continuous support at the executive level, and fear that change will negatively impact existing revenue sources.
Forrester believes that 2019 will be the year when external pressures force many businesses to go all-in on digital transformation, with targeted initiatives taking precedence over massive, enterprise-wide restructurings. Barnes described this as a pragmatic approach that will lead to more firms moving past the early stages of digital transformation.
According to Forrester’s data, 66% of Australian firms describe themselves as currently in the process of digital transformation, but only 17% claim to have completed it. Barnes encouraged his audience to see digital transformation as an ongoing process that can never be considered “complete,” urging companies to treat improvements to their back-end processes as important as the customer-facing ones.
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