Fifteen years ago, I faced a crossroads in my career.
At the time, I was working for the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, reporting directly to the CIO, leading a team of exceptional individuals in the innovation and planning unit of the Information Services Branch. In late 2004, my team had completed development of what was to become the Queensland Government’s Digital and ICT strategic planning framework. We received a ministerial Australia Day Award for our efforts, but I was restless.
Becoming A Professional Problem Solver
I consulted with colleagues, friends, and family about my future aspirations but constantly sensed that my professional strength lay in one simple truth:
I like to help business leaders deal with the impacts of constant technology change.
Whether it’s developing a deep understanding of emerging technology, evaluating options for the future of existing solutions, or developing practices to bring order to the apparent chaos of our technology industry, I relish the challenge of providing forward-thinking yet pragmatic advice to make the people who manage technology successful.
And then a former colleague at Meta Group sent me an email recommending that I join Forester. For over 22 years (at the time), Forrester had been focused on providing thought leadership and guidance to executives, strategists, and professionals on how they could gain business advantage from technology. It was a company that I immediately knew I wanted to be part of; and so the interviews began.
I wrote a report on linking service orientation to strategy planning and hosted a webinar to present my findings. Edits were made; tough questions were asked. The process to prove that I had the right stuff to be an analyst took almost three months.
In November 2005, I became the first Forrester analyst in more than a decade to cover Australia and New Zealand. A month later, my first report, “Open Source And Linux Adoption Slow In Australia And New Zealand,” was published under the watchful eye of John McCarthy. Indeed, John taught me much of what it means to be a good industry analyst, including how to build the weight of an argument and effectively leverage quantitative data. He drilled into me the analyst’s duty to “make the call” and always go beyond the obvious conclusion to find the second- and third-level implications of every recommendation.
After leaving in 2006, I had the opportunity to apply what I learned at Forrester at technology consulting and boutique analyst firms, including as one of the partners in Business Aspect, which was acquired by Data#3 in 2014. But I always felt I had unfinished business, both as an industry analyst and at Forrester.
Leveraging What I’ve Learned
Fast-forward nearly 15 years, and fate has been kind.
I’ve been given the opportunity to “boomerang” back to Forrester as the new principal analyst for CIOs and technology leaders in Australia, as well as nearshore markets in Asia Pacific such as New Zealand and Singapore — a role that my research director, Michael Barnes, admitted was more than 18 months in the making (first discussed over a beer back in April 2018).
While it feels like I’ve come home, everything is just that little bit more “right” than when I was a first-time analyst all those years ago — a Marty McFly moment, when I have returned more confident and more experienced. Forrester is now the perfect combination of the familiar and the new. I’m collaborating with people I respect and have worked with in various roles over the past decade or more. At the same time, I’m also working with a new team of individual thought leaders, who are in turn supported by an extended family of customer account and success managers. Returning was definitely the right decision.
But what problems am I looking to help CIOs and technology leaders solve now?
Thriving In The Age Of The Customer
A lot has changed in the past 15 years. Innovation has shifted from the boardroom to the lounge room, the largest computers are no longer in the basements of banks but distributed across the globe and accessed without wires, and we are all constantly connected in a 24×7 information cycle — one that goes far beyond mere news, exposing instead the sentiment of anyone and everyone on absolutely everything.
In Forrester terms, we’re halfway through the age of the customer: a 20-year business cycle that began in 2011 and during which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers (see the report “Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer”).
For CIOs, any reinvention of the firms they serve requires a fundamental transformation in the business of technology itself (see the report “Technology Management In The Age Of The Customer” and check out the IT transformation playbook). This is not a new problem. The business of technology changed with the internet, the cloud, and digital business. It will change again with automation and AI. But with each new wave of change, successful CIOs seek support to set new visions, adopt novel strategies, employ innovative solutions, and gain unique skills.
So for 2020, my focus is to help you:
- Expand your vision. I’ll explore external trends and changes in the Australian market and beyond. For example, I will be publishing forecasts for Australia’s technology market, providing our latest IT budget benchmarks, and analyzing the impact of automation on the future of work.
- Build your strategy. I’ll provide direction on how to become truly customer-obsessed and help your firm achieve competitive advantage. For example, I will be publishing an updated view of Australia’s leading public cloud providers, conducting an evaluation of local cloud service providers, and collaborating with global colleagues to deliver our new IT playbook for embracing the adaptive IT operating model (see the report “Build Your Adaptive IT Operating Model Iteratively”).
- Execute brilliantly. I’ll provide frameworks, practices, methods, and toolkits to exploit the trends to drive revenue and profit. For example, I will be collaborating with my colleagues in Forrester Consulting to expand our customer experience training for IT teams (CX4IT).
But as John McCarthy would have no doubt asked: “What else? What are the problems of tomorrow — the ones just beyond the horizon?”
I’d love to hear from you as I continue to sharpen my research and advisory focus over 2020 and beyond.