The Counterintuitive CEO

Death Of The CIO, Birth Of The CBTO

December 7, 2010

All CEOs worry that the CIO and staff are more interested in technology than in driving business results. Here are some simple but powerful changes you can make to get your technologists leaning in the right direction…
 
For the last three years, I've been advocating that companies drop the term "IT" to describe their technology efforts and replace it with "Business Technology" (BT). This signals the people who work in technology departments of large companies that they exist to drive one thing (business) and it signals the corporation that the technology department is serious about helping increase growth and profit. The graphic at left shows that firms are already on the road to building better linkage between technology inputs and business results.
 
Once you make the switch to BT, I propose that you drop the term "CIO" and adopt a new moniker for the head of technology: "Chief Business Technology Officer" (CBTO). I was in front a large group of Forrester's CIO clients in October and I asked them to describe the CBTO using a semi-comedic device: "You know you're a CBTO if…" Here are some of the better entries:
 
"You know you're a CBTO if your boss feels that you can step into the COO or CEO role."
“If you stop worrying about how fast the technology is changing and start worrying about how fast the business environment is changing.”
“If you are comfortable debating M&A and market share with your CEO.”
“If you have moved on from thinking analog — you have mastered thinking digitally.”
“If you think first about creating greater value for the customer.”
“If you can speak the language of the CFO, CMO, and CEO as well as your native technology language.”
“If your success depends upon reacting to the desires of millions you will never meet.”
 
I love that last thought — that the CBTO's sensitivity to customers will be so high that he or she will know exactly what technology to implement. Most CEOs would be overjoyed if their heads of technology possessed such a skill.
 
OK — what do you think? How would you complete the sentence, "You know you're a CBTO if…?" I'd love to get your comment.
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