by Bobby Cameron

Bobby-Cameron Business Technology (BT) is the largest single technology-management transition you will face over the next 5-10 years, as BT redefines IT’s operating model in your firm. BT is pervasive technology use, increasingly managed outside of IT's direct control. How does BT show itself? Employees, customers, and partners are bringing Web 2.0 and social computing technologies into business processes; business leaders are directly contracting for online solutions and business process outsourcing; and users are configuring their own business solutions, using ERP applications from vendors like SAP or IT-provided platforms built from technologies like business process modeling (BPM). Whether the business user is aware of the technology angle or not, IT’s traditional project-based plan-build-run approach to technology management can’t keep up with BT’s user-driven technology adoption.

How far has BT come at your firm? Forrester’s ongoing research and client interactions show that most firms have passed the tipping point — technology is business and we can’t run our companies without it. And the key issue for you as a CIO is, how much your business organizations are making decisions that directly drive technology — and how you are responding. Ask yourself the following:

“Are my business leaders buying services over the Net — to run direct-marketing campaigns, sales-force automation, or logistics route optimization? Or are they using blogs, wikis, and Facebook for business functions?”

“Am I waiting for these users to fail and to come running back to IT — or am I proactively enabling BT success — and, therefore, business success?”

With BT’s emergence, CIO attention to enabling BT success is growing, with CIOs making explicit plans for BT enablement in their annual strategic plans. Some are educating their firms on BT’s impact — on the business and on how the IT organization operates. Others are assessing their BT leadership maturity and pursuing new IT structures and processes which will help their firms take full advantage of the BT opportunities (see my report: “BT Changes IT’s Operating Model”). 

Forrester provides you with a tool that can help you to understand BT’s impact on your organization — to assess your BT leadership maturity and to identify next steps to improve your ability to move forward. Forrester's BT Leadership Maturity Road Map examines technology leadership practices through a lens of five elements — strategy, process, structure, performance measurement, and culture — and identifies five maturity levels, each of which is ever more harmonized and blended with the work of the enterprise and its business network.

One size doesn’t fit all for how you should address BT Leadership in your organization. As with most maturity frameworks, Forrester’s BT Road Map helps you to assess your movement from ad hoc and chaotic BT activities, through the development of defined and repeatable BT processes, to the achievement of optimized and business-integrated BT leadership. Some organizations will focus on BT governance, driving changes in budgeting, funding, and prioritization. Others will integrate their management of IT demand, bringing together the project and services portfolios, tied to metrics and cost-based value realization, and tied to program and project management. Still others will look to shift IT’s culture from technology control to business enablement, establishing a business value point of view through transparency of IT’s activities in a business context.

I just hosted a complementary webinar on this topic yesterday, and it sparked a great (virtual) conversation that I’d like to continue. If you didn’t have a chance to attend, feel free to check out the recording and slides here — “Assessing And Developing Your IT's Leadership Practices Today And Into The Business Technology Era” — and share any questions or reactions on this blog.  

On Friday, July 24, I’ll be posting answers to the questions we didn’t get to during the webinar — so be sure to check back for that.  Or, as always, you can simply sign up (at the top right corner of the blog) to receive notifications whenever new entries are posted. I’ll look forward to your comments.