Blog Post

Does the Software-Defined Future Mean the End of IT?

Software-defined everything is a hot topic these days -- first and foremost because the pace of change in business is accelerating, and this is changing expectations for how IT operates. I've been hosting a lot of CIO roundtables and dinners on this topic, and I hear a growing consensus that if IT organizations don't figure out how to compete with nimble cloud providers to provide IT services on-demand, they will be outsourced. "IT has to virtualize and automate or die," one IT leader said.

While many CIOs see a "service broker" role in their future, a VP of IT from a global technology manufacturer actually predicts the dissolution of IT altogether. He believes that all of the functions that are part of IT today will be pushed out into engineering, or product development, and all that will remain in IT is governance. A year ago, that statement would have been immediately shot down. Not today ...

Blog Post

What Is Digital Business?

For the past two years, I’ve conducted a half dozen or so major research projects on digital business. At the outset, I looked for a definition that we could present to participating executives that would ground the research in something tangible. There wasn’t much out there. Even MIT's Center for Digital Business hadn't pinned this down. So we created our own definition as “the transformation of business models, products and/or operations from the use of information and communications technologies.”

OK, but wow, that was vague — transformation from what — and to what? Do a search today, and you'll find a lot more of the same.

Having completed all this research — survey results from thousands of business leaders around the world and interviews with close to a hundred executives, analysts and academics, my thinking has shifted. Today I define digital business as…

Blog Post

Burn Your Communication Plan

We all know how hard change can be. Whether we like to admit it or not, every one of us performs at least some parts of our jobs on auto-pilot; it's more efficient for our brains to operate that way. That makes it hard to do things differently.

When leaders introduce a significant change without a lot of communication around what will be different, why it's happening (including connecting it to something that matters to each member of the team), and how the change will unfold, they shoot themselves in the foot. They inevitably encounter a lot of friction if not downright resistance to the change. In the best case, this slows things down. In the worst, this has led to multi-million dollar failures.

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Who’s Leading Digital?

The chief digital officer was the third most in-demand C-level position this year, according to executive search firm Korn Ferry. The rise of the chief digital officer (CDO) reflects the disruption being felt across industries from digital transformation and the impact this is having on organizations' business models. Well over half of respondents to a recent survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services say their organization's business model will be radically different in three years. These changes don't just happen; they need to be led.

Blog Post

Have CIOs Failed?

I have to admit it — I'm baffled. In all the research I've done in the past year, business leaders again and again say they believe the CIO is the right person to lead digital innovation. And yet, again and again, there's a gap between where everyone — CIOs and their business partners included — think the CIO should be and where they actually are. CIOs just can't seem to break out of the technology service provider role.

In the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services study, "Business Transformation and the CIO Role," 94% of respondents said CIOs would add the most value to the business by either leading business technology transformation or, even better, leading IT-driven business innovation and strategy. Only 6% voted for the CIO to focus on running the IT function to support business operations. And yet the vast majority — 70% — said that's exactly where the CIO spends his or her time.

I've also had a number of conversations lately with strategic CIOs who view their role as helping their business leverage information — they frame the digital opportunity in that context. Sure, they need technology to do that, but that's not where the value lies or how they define their role.