Perspectives On The Journey 2.0 – A Dialog With Ananth Krishnan And Hassan El Bouhali

It was 2017 when I participated in a discussion with TCS CTO Ananth Krishnan and CIO extraordinaire Hassan El Bouhali. An animated video was produced to capture a dialog that was initiated as part of an online leadership course focused on the future. Upon a recommendation from Hassan, we did a follow-up session several weeks back. This iteration of perspectives on the journey looks back at our original discussion and then ventures into the future. As we did in the first iteration, we broke the dialog into three pieces: seeing the future, rehearsing it, and adapting to its eventual shifts. I will share each video separately starting with “SEE”. We will then animate shorter versions that capture key aspects of our discussion and share them as they become available. As a reminder of what we focused on in this series, here is the original abstract followed by the “SEE” video.

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Perspectives on the Journey

A key message in the Reimagining the Future body of work is that our growing digital world challenges every aspect of how we do business, how we govern and how we live. It will drive significant strategic, tactical and structural changes and fundamentally alter our long-standing beliefs, success strategies and institutional constructs. We’re already seeing it.  Just look at companies like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Tencent, Google, Alibaba and Facebook.  They are rewriting the rules and redefining how value is created and captured, using digitally-centered platforms and ecosystem-enabled business models.

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The CIO Discussion

The CIO role discussion is on fire, and conferences all over the world dedicate considerable time to the ongoing dialog. To add more meat to the discussion, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) recently positioned Business-Led IT as a model for the future. Chris Mixter, senior director of advisory services for CEB distinguishes it from Shadow IT in this quote from a Forbes Article by Nikki Goth Itoi:  

“This is not about the willful or ignorant duplication of core IT services. Your internal business customers are bypassing IT and investing in activities that are driving a critical business outcome.” 

This emerging Business-led IT is therefore not what we have historically called shadow IT. The CEB recently found that 78% of business leaders’ priorities for 2014 were dependent on technology. This drives a keen interest in business-led IT, which shares three primary characteristics:

  • Funding comes directly from departmental budgets
  • The ideas do not require IT approval
  • Capabilities are delivered using business resources, external providers, and/or the cloud

Where speed takes priority over efficiency or cost, IT could be shut out of critical business initiatives. According to the CEB, the business spends three times as much on innovation as the corporate IT function does. It is said that you can’t be a CIO these days if you are not versed in the business. Considering the previous statistic on the dependence of business priorities on technology, the same may be true about business executives that are not versed in technology. As business leaders become more technology savvy, the business-led IT phenomenon broadens. The above article also positions an interesting twist on the war for talent. Here’s Chris Mixter again:

“Let’s face it, the best technology graduates in the world aren’t terribly stoked about working in corporate IT. They want to go work in marketing, R&D, or supply chain. And none of those functions are held accountable to the strict pay scales in the HR hierarchies that we are.”

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IT and Business Integration

The CMO and CIO relationship discussion has been raging for months, and there is a growing perspective that IT budget ownership will shift from IT to the business. Add to this the growing list of new executive roles, and the role of CIO could look very different in the near future. I recently participated in a panel discussion on this topic at a CIO Summit attended by over 40 CIOs. I was somewhat surprised by several of the answers provided by the CIO panel, as well as those provided to poll questions posed during the session. It would indicate that those raging discussions about IT and business integration are unfounded. I thought I’d get a different perspective from someone with one of those new executive titles, so I interviewed Heidi Schwende, a Chief Digital Officer with WSI World. The following are her thoughts on similar questions.

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The Ultimate Power Duo – The CMO and CIO

The New Jersey CIO Executive Summit produced by Evanta was held on December 5th in Whippany New Jersey. I had the pleasure of moderating the lunchtime keynote – a panel discussion titled “The Ultimate Power Duo – The CMO/CIO Partnership”. Joining me on stage were two CMO-CIO teams:

Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc:

CIO – Nicholas Colisto,

VP Corporate Marketing and Sales – Laura VanVelthoven


CIO – Gabrielle Wolfson,

VP Marketing – Betty Noonan

Bloggers, Industry analysts, and Surveys are fueling the CMO-CIO partnership discussion and delivering some very bold predictions:

  • Fully 60 percent of marketers point to their lack of alignment with the company’s IT department as the biggest obstacle to reaching the consumer
  • Gartner says ninety percent of technology spending will be outside of the IT budget by the end of the decade. In contrast, only 20 percent of technology spend was outside of IT as recently as 2000
  • In 2013, global technology spending is expected to reach $3.7 trillion, according to Gartner – and IT spending is being spread more widely than ever across the business
  • Gartner Research predicts the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017
  • A recent IBM Survey shows that leading Marketers are extending their role beyond Marketing

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The CIO and the Future of Enterprise IT

The Big Four areas of innovation (Social, Cloud, Mobile, and Big Data) have generated much discussion about their transformative and disruptive nature. As I’ve described in a recent post, the future enterprise is a Digital Enterprise.  In the last two months, I’ve been involved in several forums where the discussion centered on the future of Enterprise IT, and more specifically, the changing role of the CIO. While there are no clear answers, there are a lot of opinions and much speculation. 

I’ve been on the side of this argument that believes significant change is coming to Enterprise IT – and for that matter – current organization structures. The big four have created an environment that can’t flourish in traditional command and control models. In a recent IBM CEO Study, CEOs emphasized the need for openness and collaboration. Openness has clear benefits, as empowered employees drive better results by generating ideas, bringing creativity to the innovation process, and delighting customers. But as the study points out, openness comes with risk. The open culture required for success will drive companies to align employee and company values in a way that encourages value-driven decision making – not control-driven. What this translates to in terms of organization design is anyone’s guess – but organizational change is coming to the Digital Enterprise. 

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Review of 2011 and Thoughts on 2012

2011 in my mind will be viewed as the launching point of a digital revolution. The momentum started in 2010 and kicked into overdrive in 2011. The rapid adoption of tablets and Smartphones fueled an aggressive development of mobile applications, while E-Book sales increased at a remarkable pace. Meanwhile, the world continued to go social in ways that few would have imagined. World leaders felt the power of Social Media, as revolutions expanded through the organizing power of Facebook and Twitter. Business leaders came to grips with the power of social media, as skepticism waned and social business turned the corner. Data continued to grow exponentially, expanding the gulf between available data and meaningful insight. Lastly, 2011 marked the year that cloud computing burst onto the enterprise landscape – In fact, 2011 may eventually be viewed as the year of the Cloud.

These factors combined to drive an aggressive digital expansion that in most cases happened through isolated initiatives driven by marketing. Businesses with indirect channels to market looked towards direct to consumer models. Regulated industries embraced the opportunity of social media, while addressing its risk. Customer experience became the mantra for many businesses, as re-inventing customer relationships topped most priority lists. New digital executive positions were created in response to growing questions about effective governance models. The notion of holistic digital strategies was in fashion again, and innovation and operating dexterity rounded out the top priorities for most executives in 2011.

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Gartner Identifies Seven Major CEO Concerns CIOs Should Address

At the Gartner Symposium / ITxpo this week, Gartner identified seven major CEO concerns and suggests that CIO find ways to address them. These concerns portray a continued lack of confidence, and anxiety over the economic climate. The seven concerns are:

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Gartner’s views on ROI and 2011

In this great Blog post by Robert Mitchell titled ROI fading fast as measure of IT success, Mr. Mitchell discusses the key messages planned for this weeks Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.  I walk away with several key messages:

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