Inviting CIOs into the business growth conversation: Forrester weighs in

Companies that grow better are the ones that align the capabilities of their business and technology groups, a new trends report by global research company Forrester revealed.

For the report, Forrester interviewed business, technology, and marketing decision-makers at 23 organizations with an annual revenue of US$100 million or more, including IBM, McKinsey, Globant, Infosys, TCS and more.

Over 30 per cent of the entire tech budget is spent without the involvement of IT, explained Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst of Forrester, in a webinar discussing the report. He added, “it’s spent because it is a line item in the business budget.”

He noted, however, that when companies get to a certain scale of technology, it’s critical that IT be involved, adding, “business investment in technology is not a problem. It’s not shadow IT, it’s an opportunity for technology leaders.”

Technology executives including CIOs, CTOs and CDOs have to earn their right to be in the room where growth matters, the report says. To do that, they should focus on three things:

  1. IT should be able to operate the platforms that span the customer journey, and at the same time reduce costs.

It does not matter who funded the platforms originally, the report says. “Once they hit critical mass, they’re your responsibility to fix and operate for all users.”

Further, a tech exec should work to protect the brand, reputation and trust of the company by securing customer-facing systems with zero-trust principles.

Additionally, IT should assist employees with applications and processes that aid and streamline their flow of work, allowing them to focus on revenue-generating activities.

2.  IT should collaboratively build products that open new markets and amplify growth opportunities.

“New products are too important for CIOs to remain on the sidelines,” the report reads. Tech teams empower product teams to create at scale and provide IT support for cloud platforms, and agile development, security, and operations (DevSecOps).

IT also has the unique vantage point to oversee business processes and data systems and is, therefore, in the best position to bring product owners together to unify hosting, identity management, interface standards, and product development.

Further, CIOs can amplify their company’s growth by activating co-innovation partnerships. Contributions of partners with blended teams yield outcomes-based contract terms, the report noted.

3. Leverage insights, algorithms, and automation to optimize growth

IT should work to integrate data systems to extract signals that predict purchase and profitability. Once IT helps eliminate the friction in bringing a customer on board, it can then optimize their experience, and that of the employees who can leverage insights to retain customers.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also a big game changer for growth, the report notes. As firms fold AI into the customer solutions, CIOs face the “can we trust it, scale it, and afford it” challenge, and it becomes their responsibility to ensure data quality, pragmatic deployment, and scale with the help of co-innovation partners.

However, the report advises IT leaders to not hide behind the technology and “avoid pitching random acts of metaverse or blockchain, which need radical changes in life or trade to matter.”

The report quoted chief AI officer of UK communications company WWP Daniel Hulme, who said, “Don’t think of AI through definitions, but through interesting applications like task automation, complex decision-making, and content generation.”

It adds, “Wield them [capabilities of AI] to optimize everything, automate what you can, and replace manual tasks with digital copilots. Draw on the inspiration of ChatGPT to identify all the ways in which generative AI can grow.”

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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