Speed to drive CIO agenda in 2017

Tech spending will increase a modest 2.9% in 2017

binary code cityscape speed

Think fast, CIOs.

It’s time for organizations to move past the “false promise” of a bimodal approach to IT, which results in a divided tech department operating at two different speeds, according to research and advisory firm Forrester. Instead, CIOs need to push for enterprise-wide acceleration – and a comprehensive business technology strategy – to keep up with customers’ appetites for new products and services.

“Gone are the days of stability and predictability. The business environment you operate in will change faster than ever in 2017. Many of these changes will be outside of your control, but your ability to anticipate and respond will make or break your success,” Forrester writes in a research document focused on the evolving role of the CIO in 2017.

There won’t be big budget boosts to accompany the flurry of change in IT, however. Forrester is forecasting a 2.9% increase in tech spending in 2017, and it cites weak economic growth and increasing uncertainties about the future as reasons for the unremarkable gains.

Here are some more highlights from Forrester’s report, “Predictions 2017: CIOs Push For Speed Amid Volatility.”

The fast pace of tech adoption among consumers isn’t letting up
Consumers’ intention to buy a new product or service when it first launches is up to five times greater than it was a decade ago, according to Forrester’s numbers. In the coming year, technologies such as augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) will be on the radar of tech buyers who are “perpetually open to the next big things,” the firm says.

Old-school businesses can’t hide from need for speed
In the business-to-consumer world, most CIOs are familiar with today’s accelerated pace of change. But in the coming year, even the most conservative and traditional business-to-business firms will need to make operational changes that drive speed, Forrester says. It doesn’t matter if these old-school companies are filled with legacy systems – or legacy staff. They’re not immune to customer expectations of quickness and newness.

Expect to work with new people
Business and operational changes will lead to greater turnover among executive leaders, Forrester predicts. For CIOs, that means they’ll be working with new partners inside and outside the organization. In particular, CMO turnover will hover around 30% next year, Forrester says, which means many CIOs will find themselves having to rebuild IT-marketing relationships.

Say goodbye to bimodal
In a bimodal approach to IT, teams pursue two different styles of work: one group is more practical, focused on improving systems that are predictable and stable; and one group is more innovative, focused on experimental initiatives to solve new problems. Forrester isn’t a fan of this approach, which was conceived by rival Gartner. CIOs who pursued a bimodal strategy wound up creating separate groups working on segregated systems, and now they have to correct these “bimodal missteps,” Forrester says in its report.

“They only pushed part of their team to adopt an accelerated pace — and left others unchanged. But those CIOs are already experiencing the shortcomings of operating at two speeds. Business peer frustration, polarizing and deteriorating cultures, and unsustainable operational complexities will continue, ultimately spurring most of these CIOs to course correct in 2017.”

Agile and DevOps will dominate
In the application development and delivery area, CIOs will embrace agile development and DevOps methodologies for most of their new projects, to keep IT moving at a fast pace, Forrester says. “CIOs at more progressive and customer-obsessed firms will push further, plugging their teams into firmwide design-thinking processes,” the firm predicts. “This cross-functional iterative approach to experience design and delivery will be a big shift — fraught with false starts and missteps along the way — but will successfully lay the groundwork for sustainable customer-led innovation.”

CIOs will tap new ways of finding talent
“Talent shortages will continue in software development, cybersecurity, and data science and pick up steam in emerging technology-related areas like blockchain and AI,” Forrester predicts. “These challenges will drive CIOs to augment existing recruiting strategies with promiscuous partnering, more freelancers, and even experiments with the technology-based gig economy.” The firm also expects more CIOs to move their IT teams to metro areas that have a healthy supply/demand ratio of talent.

As for the technologies behind this enterprise-wide focus on speed and agility, Forrester points to five key technologies that leading CIOs will make it a priority to adopt:

1. Cloud
Already a mainstay in many organizations, cloud computing will play an increasing central role in IT in the coming year, Forrester says. “In 2017, CIOs will step up to orchestrate cloud ecosystems, connecting employees, customers, partners, vendors, and devices to serve rising customer expectations. Developments such as containers and DevOps will help in that transition. Some will push further as they transition from being cloud adopters to becoming cloud companies themselves.”

2. Open source
Open source tools and technologies clearly aren’t new in enterprise IT, but 2017 will bring greater reliance on open source as a driver of innovation and speed, Forrester says. Scalability and access to talent-filled open source communities are among the advantages of open source. “In 2017, we will see the vast majority of development organizations embrace open source/OpenStack — in particular for the development of product-related software, customer experience, and process solutions that need to cut across business and technology silos. 

3. IoT
There’s been a lot of hype around IoT, but adoption so far has been limited to industrial, automotive and certain business-to-business projects, Forrester says. “The IoT’s ability to create and deepen relationships with customers (B2C and B2B) and create the linkage between new customer front ends and operational back-end systems has largely gone untapped.” That will start to change as IoT technologies mature for more diverse use cases.

4 and 5. Augmented reality and artificial intelligence
Despite a fragmented vendor landscape and scarcity of use cases, AR and AI will begin to take hold, Forrester asserts. “In 2017, CIOs will partner with their marketing and [customer experience] colleagues to reap the benefits of these technologies. By weaving AR into more of their mobile apps, companies will offer customers more personalized shopping and enhanced ownership experiences. Meanwhile, AI and cognitive computing will increasingly be integrated into existing architectures and applications as a way to drive innovation throughout 2017.”

Predictions 2017: CIOs Push For Speed Amid Volatility” is written by Forrester analysts Matthew Guarini, Pascal Matzke, and Sharyn Leaver with Carrie Johnson, Annika Gunderson, and Ian McPherson. It’s one of several new 2017 prediction guides from Forrester.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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