Dell CIO: Stop Asking the Business What it Wants and Start ‘Futuring’

Dell Inc. CIO Adriana Karaboutis takes a page from the Steve Jobs marketing playbook when she adopts the strategy of “…not asking what people want.” In a SearchCIO interview with Nicole Laskowski, Karaboutis agrees with Jobs, who was known for ignoring customer needs on the basis that those needs tend to change faster than a company can create the finished product.   

Stop Asking, Start Observing

Instead, the savvy CIO uses the approach of “futuring,” meaning anticipating what customers will want next rather than obsessing over what they want now. This is accomplished by doing a lot of observing. How do internal business people go about their work? What are the problems they face on a daily basis, and how can IT address those problems? Karaboutis explains it this way:

Their job is to actually spend time with internal business people to see how they work, where they run into roadblocks, and how IT can help. “We stop asking and start thinking — and [start] 'futuring,'” Karaboutis said, defining furturing by quoting another entrepreneur with a golden touch, Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Some problems are universal for all users, whether they are internal or external. That is why, expanding the application of futuring, Karaboutis’ team made observations on both sides of the isle, applying a solution that guaranteed broad ranging appeal.

Just Imagine

When asked specifically about the term “futuring,” Karaboutis is quick to note that it is basically the same idea as benchmarking, of watching what everyone else is doing. It’s not about predicting the future she says, but imagining a possibility and then making new developments based on that future image.

For Dell, replacing an IT steering committee with a business architecture team was a real success. This has become the new approach of the company – of IT having its own opinion, observing its customer, and of being bold enough to imagine the possibilities.

You can read the whole interview here:

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