George F. Colony: On the Voyage to Business Technology

What is crucial for the success of BT in companies?

Colony: I believe what is most important today is how the success imperatives of the CEO align with those of the CIO. You will find that in most companies they are not aligned. But as we move to BT you will find that they come closer together and finally you will have a synchronicity between the two. This is the right voyage, I am sure about that.

Talking about the changes necessary due to the new paradigm. Are there any changes needed at Forrester as well?

Colony: Instead of addressing the market by topics we address the market by the roles of our clients now. And that is helping us to help them become more relevant to the business issues in their companies. So we got out of questions like: „Isn’t SOA cool?“ or „Isn’t mobility cool?“ We now ask how could the CIOs use mobility to drive the market share and the revenue of their companies. So I would say yes, it has definitely changed the way we think. It has also made us more connected to the CEOs. Because you can’t be a business technologist unless you know the businesses. And of course the CEOs know best about their business. So I personally spend a lot more of my time with CEOs trying to help them to understand technology better – but also to help the CIO better understand the CEO.

Is there a need for change in the CEO as well?

Colony: In a company that is truly BT you cannot have the CIO be the centre of innovation or the centre of technology. In a true BT company you have TKBEs – Technology Knowledgeable Business Executives. What has happened here is that the CEO and the business leaders have increased their IQ in technology. So they are able to work as a team with the CIO to drive innovation. So you can’t say innovation is up to the CEO and you can’t say it is up to the CIO. They all must understand the technology to work together to use technology for innovation. You can see that for example at companies like Federal Express or UPS that even the CEO is highly technology focused. Not that they can understand SOA in it’s great depth. They have to be able to receive it in a friendly way and not to resist it. Many CEOs now resist. They hear Web 2.0 and say „We’re not gonna do that“. They are not thinking like their customers. I have an aphorism: Your customers are changed by technology and your customers will change you. By the way, this year I calculated is the first time that a CEO is appointed to a fortune 1000 company who grew up with an Apple II. You are going to see this now. The CEOs who will arrive in the next 10 years will all know technology from their childhood. They grew up with it and accordingly they will deal with it differently. So I think we are going to see tremendous generational change. And that is going to drive us further from IT to BT. That is another driver for BT.

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