Indian CIOs are at the risk of losing business credibility if they do not improve their understanding of business technology (BT). This is the key finding from the latest report that John Brand and I just published. For this report, we surveyed 130 companies in India, using Forrester’s BT Leadership Maturity Model as a baseline for gauging the BT maturity and readiness of Indian organizations. Our survey revealed a surprising level of consistency and positivity about BT among Indian firms, regardless of organization size, type or industry.

This was especially surprising given that BT is a relatively new concept in emerging markets. When we asked CIOs at Indian organizations to define BT in their own words, the responses displayed an overwhelmingly enthusiastic and optimistic view of BT; the most common theme centered on the value of BT as a general principle. However, many topics that were widely cited in self-assessments from CIOs in more mature markets like North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand were all but ignored by Indian CIOs, including time-to-value, market differentiation, communication, and governance.  As Indian CIOs have not long been exposed to the general concepts of BT, Forrester believes that inflated self-rankings are mainly attributed to a lack of understanding of just how comprehensive BT is.

The report helps answer key questions such as:

·         Why are Indian CIOs remarkably consistent in their BT views and attitudes? And is this really just due to a common tendency to inflate their own BT maturity?

·         In what areas are Indian CIOs lacking compared with their counterparts in mature economies?

·         How might excessive optimism about BT impair the progress of Indian organizations?

·         How Indian CIOs can improve their BT maturity?

With the consumerization of IT and fast-changing business dynamics, the CIO’s role is evolving to become less technical and more business-oriented. The transition from IT to BT is no doubt a long-term journey for Indian CIOs — as it is for CIOs around the world. However, we believe that Indian CIOs are at a crossroads and need to select a more realistic path to their future role.

Successful CIOs will critically assess and improve their BT maturity – key to becoming more influential and successful business leaders, particularly compared with those who remain focused on technology management. This progress will increase their influence and credibility as next-generation IT leaders.

Are you getting BT-ready? Please share your thoughts on what initiatives you are taking in your organization to become a BT leader. Forrester will be running its series of CIO events across Asia Pacific in September; the India summit is scheduled for September 26 in Delhi. The theme of the summit is “From IT To BT And Beyond;” there are a limited number of complimentary invitations available to senior leaders in the industry. Are you interested in attending the India CIO Summit? Let me know.