Forrester’s Asia Pacific team is working at a fast and furious pace preparing for our CIO Summits in Singapore, Sydney and New Delhi throughout September.  As the content champion for the event, I have been working with about a dozen regional CIO speakers to prepare presentations on their journeys from IT to Business Technology, which is the focus of our summits.

Our distinguished line-up of CIO speakers provides an insightful cross-section of the countries, cultures and industries they span.  As they all embark on their respective BT journeys, it has become clear that they must each chart their own course and sequence activities in a way that makes sense for their unique circumstances.  Nevertheless, across these varied landscapes I have identified three key themes that are critical to the BT journeys regional CIOs will be forced to make:

  • Taking Care of the Basics: Although innovation and the power of BT are alluring, the BT journey starts with some basic plumbing.  All of our CIO speakers have emphasized that their BT journeys wouldn’t have taken the first step without first ensuring they were doing the basic things well.  They cannot convince the CEO that they deserve a seat at the table of business strategy without showing they know how to handle the basics first. In our Singapore Summit, Krishnan Narayanan, Managing Director and Head of IT at UBS will share his experience and provide recommendations for setting a solid foundation to enable the BT transition.
  • Bringing the Situation to a Head:Another lesson I’m learning is that the BT transition in Asia Pacific is often sparked by friction and uncomfortable interactions.  Sometimes these sparks are initiated by the CIO and sometimes they come from outside, but I’ve seen that the BT transition isn’t for the feint-hearted.  One CIO I recently interviewed in Australia provided this advice to his peers: if you are not working with an organization that will truly accept the value of BT, then look for an employer that does.  Other CIOs have found that although it is often a challenge, breakthroughs can be made when they take a strong stand.  Bo Frausing Christensen, the CIO of Courts Asia, will provide advice in Singapore on how to spark the right changes through effective and strong communication.
  • Fundamentally Reshaping Skills:Once the stage has been set, regional CIOs find that successful BT transitions require a radical reshaping of the skills within their IT organizations.  They all tend to find that some employees within their existing teams are willing and able to change, while others are not.  Moreover, the creation of entirely new roles is usually needed and the infusion of external talent serves as the change catalysts they require.  Grahame Coles, the CIO of the Department of Human Services in Australia, will explain how drastic budget cuts have driven him to adjust skill profiles to cope with uncompromising demands from above.

As is always the case, my discussions have reminded me that CIOs on-the-ground dealing with real-life issues are the best source of insight and guidance.  I’ve been encouraged by the BT progress of our speakers and look forward to sharing their insights with over 250 CIOs across Asia Pacific next month.