At its recently concluded Business & Technology Leadership Forum 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) told an audience of more than 400 IT and business executives that their organizations must embrace chaotic technologies such as the proliferation of consumer devices, social networking tools, and cloud-based collaboration services. These technologies are making their way into the enterprise in a wave of IT adoption that Forrester refers to as Technology Populism. Executives from Dell, IBM, Lockheed Martin, and Marriott International provided examples of emerging organizational, process, and technology practices that balance chaos and control, driving new business value without placing the organization at risk from these emerging consumer-facing technologies.

“Organizations trying to impose control over these chaotic technologies from the top down with pages and pages of policies and guidelines will fail,” said Forrester Vice President and Research Director Sharyn Leaver. “Chaos is the new norm: Chaotic technologies aren’t going anywhere, and the fundamental shift in the balance of power to individuals and networks of individuals is very real and is also around to stay. Organizations looking to embrace chaos to deliver results must empower their people to lead the effort, give careful consideration to setting new policies and guidelines, and evangelize the business results delivered through chaotic technologies.”

Attendees were able to select from three track sessions designed for CIOs, Business Process & Applications professionals, and Information & Knowledge Management professionals. In the CIO track, Forrester unveiled new data from its forthcoming Q3 2008 North America Business Technology Online Survey, in which it polled 600 business executives on their views about IT. The data revealed:

  • Business execs are more aware of technology’s importance but see IT as ineffective. Eight-two percent of those surveyed agreed that technology is a core component of their products and services. More than 70 percent agreed that technology is central to how they differentiate themselves from competitors and that it is essential for their distribution and sales model. However, less than 40 percent of the respondents said IT was very effective in supporting them in those areas.
  • Business execs feel that IT doesn’t support critical business drivers. Eighty-two percent of respondents indicated that lowering overall operating costs is a key business imperative, but only 42 percent said IT supported this goal well. Similarly, 78 percent said that improving workforce productivity is a key business goal, but only 45 percent said IT was providing strong support in this area.

Attendees had the opportunity to attend two pre-forum workshops. They participated in one-on-one sessions with Forrester analysts, peer networking, and a technology showcase where 14 sponsors — including Platinum Sponsor IBM and Gold Sponsors CSC, Fujitsu, and TIBCO — shared their solutions.

Prior to the event, seven of the Forrester Leadership Boards held member meetings. These included The CIO Group, Analyst Relations Council, Applications & Program Management Council, Enterprise Architecture Council, Information & Knowledge Management Council, Infrastructure & Operations Council, and Technology Marketing Executive Council.