We at Forrester have written a lot about the “empowered era” in the past year. We’re talking about the empowerment of customers and employees, the consumerization of technology, and grass-roots-based, tech-enabled innovation. There are lots of great case studies around illustrating these forces and how they can benefit the enterprise, but those success stories are only part of the picture. Behind the scenes, there is disruption and confusion about who’s planning the road ahead regarding the technology in our organizations’ future. It used to be that the CIO made sure that happened by making it the exclusive domain of strategic planners and enterprise architects. But isn’t centralized — and IT-based — tech planning the opposite of empowerment? Wouldn’t sticking with the old approach result in missing out on all this employee innovation that’s supposed to be so powerful? Should the CIO no longer establish the technology the enterprise will use? Does the empowerment era mean the end of tech planning as we know it?

We’ll be tackling these questions head-on at Forrester’s CIO-CMO Forum 2011 in Boston on September 22. And we’ll be doing it in a new, highly provocative way: Instead of hearing from a nonstop stream of analysts, attendees will experience interactive sessions with both CIOs and CMOs in attendance. Each session will be facilitated by a pair of analysts, one covering an IT role, one covering a marketing role. I’m doing a session with analyst Dave Frankland (plus all those CIOs and CMOs) on “Building And Maintaining Technology Selection And Implementation Plans,” so we’ll be addressing one of the thorniest issues that the empowered era has introduced. We’ll be figuring out what stays and what goes from the old model and how to accommodate all this disruptive technology consumerism.   

This session is going to be a great opportunity to get firsthand from CMOs what they need from technology and how they’d like to go about getting their hands on it. I don’t want to pre-judge, because I don’t work with CMOs, but I’m guessing that their issues will be agility, social media, agility, cost, and, let’s see, maybe agility. Did I mention social media? I work with enterprise architects and CIOs, so I already know what they want: predictability, sustainability, interoperability, and lots of other things that end with –ility. Perhaps from the outset both roles will agree that they need to care about compliance, which gets interesting with all this social media-based marketing and customer service — who really knows who is saying what to customers?

In our session, Dave and I are going to get the CIOs and CMOs to collaborate on figuring out how best to move forward in a way that best serves all the enterprise’s interests. That’s right, we’ll be deciding best practices for tech planning in the empowered era for the rest of the world on the 22nd. Shouldn’t you be there? What could possibly be more important?