CEOs can be a disruptive to an organisation as market forces, and CIOs need to be able to cope.
That was the message of George Colony, CEO at Forrester to the analyst group's IT Forum EMEA.
Colony said the role of the CEO today is to not only ensure the lights are on all the time, but to challenge the company so that it will innovate.
Colony has spent the last 12 months interviewing a wide range of CEOs and asking them what their "success imperatives" are. He distilled this down to a list of seven. These are:
— Getting, keeping, building the best people
— Engendering collaboration
— Reaching global markets
— Increasing profit
— Building a positive culture
— Customers, customers, customers
— Driving innovation
Colony asked attending CIOs what was missing. "No CEO mentioned technology," he said, adding that information technology had been transformed into business technology.
"The list of seven does not include technology, it is technology," he said. "Your success imperatives must link with this list."
"The CEO is trying to retain stability, but they also stand for disruption and destruction, which is deep change. The clocks have to work, trains must run on time, but we must also change," Colony said.
"Innovation and transformation are the two most over used words in the world," Simon Yates, vice president and research director of Forrester said. "Your CEO wants it from you and they want it badly because there are so many pressures facing them from economic forces... Innovation is the answer for all businesses."
Although CIOs were heralded as being well placed to be the innovators in organisations, Forrester research director Alex Cullen warned that the latest wave of technology is set to pose a threat to CIOs and their departments.
"Technology is moving beyond the traditional IT model, which is that technology is complex, hard to assemble and operate and requires specialists." He cited cloud computing and Web 2.0 technology as clear examples of functionality that the business can use that requires no involvement from the IT department. "IT is burdened by a legacy of operating concerns which takes a lot of time to manage and to find the skills."
With Web 2.0 and software as a service models the CIO's team is not required as maintenance is included in the deal, said Cullen citing the example of banking group Lloyds using Google maps.
Cullen added that CIOs could prove their worth with innovation driven from their existing technology and services. He pointed to German travel operator TUI, which recently launched a system that allowed its retail staff to log on to the call centre phone system and take calls when the retail side of the business was slow. The result has been decreased pressure on the call centre and increased customer service.