Many employees are no longer relying on IT to provision, manage, and run their technology because they feel IT is too slow and puts unnecessary restrictions on their use of technology.

And the Chief Information Officer (CIO) role in organisations is about to change drastically and significantly: the CIOs who continue to manage technology and focus only on execution will not survive. The ones who embrace this change and step up to enable the business, empower the employees, and encourage innovation across the organisation will succeed in this role.

So says Khalid Kark at Forrester: “The empowered era brings not just a change in technology but a change in attitudes, behaviours, and technical competencies within organisations”.

Today, 22% of employees say that they have used a non-IT-provisioned service over the Web to perform their job function —not to update their Facebook accounts, but to do real work.

Many customers expect on-demand information, customized user experiences, and mobile apps that IT is expected to deliver quickly, cheaply, and reliably. Some CIOs have reacted to this shift by vigorously defending their turf from these encroachments. Others have ceded control to third-party service providers and business managers who now make their own technology decisions.

The CIO team at Forrester embarked upon an ambitious yet critical project of charting out the future for the CIO role in this “empowered” world. As we discussed, debated, argued, and pontificated on the recent changes in the way technology is consumed, provisioned, and deployed in organizations, we came out with one clear message: The CIO role is about to change drastically and significantly.

The CIOs who continue to manage technology and focus only on execution will not survive. The ones who embrace this change and step up to enable the business, empower the employees, and encourage innovation across the organisation will succeed in this role. Two reports launched recently, “Empowered Business Technology Defined” and “The Empowered BT CIO,” highlight the changes in the role of IT and the CIO and what CIOs can do about it.

To succeed in this new empowered era, the CIO will need to move along the following five dimensions:

  • From alignment to convergence. CIOs who can only take orders, who can’t speak the language of the business, who can’t step out of the proverbial back office and into the front lines of the business will not last long. Forrester data suggests that more than two-thirds of IT leaders wait for business leaders to finalize their strategy before IT formulates its own. This is a recipe for failure. To succeed, the CIO will have to converge with the business and not think of IT as a separate discipline but infuse technology in business decisions.
  • From execution to innovation. Project execution and on-time delivery are not goals but table stakes today. Having this focus will not be enough. You must drive innovation and boost business-partner relationships. One way to do this is to reach out to business innovators and create zones that provide an environment for rapid innovation. Getting their input and providing services and advice that help them pursue their ideas will ensure that you are brought into the loop when new opportunities surface.
  • From technology supplier to services orchestrator. The traditional role of the CIO has been to manage the technology needs of the organization. The new CIO will not just supply technology but will be responsible for sourcing technology solutions and developing services for business. It will not matter who provides the technology — what is important is how these technology services get orchestrated to create value for the business.
  • From operations to business outcomes. A measure of a successful CIO used to be operational excellence. The primary task for the CIO was to ensure uptime and reduce cost by delivering services more efficiently. Today many CIOs are being measured on revenue growth, customer intimacy, and their contribution to innovation. This focus on business outcomes ensures the CIO is focused on business priorities.
  • From rules to guardrails. IT often enforces rigid rules and convoluted governance processes. IT must evolve new governance approaches that empower the business with providing “guardrails” and education, reserving strict technology control for only the most critical technology assets. For many, this will be a radical change — from layered technology management to new rules for ownership, accountability, and responsibility.

The empowered era brings not just a change in technology but a change in attitudes, behaviours, and technical competencies within organisations. The empowered CIO spends a majority of his/her time in engaging and empowering users and customers while delegating and outsourcing technology management and operations. CIOs that are not willing to make this shift will fail.

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