Forrester: Manage Business Technology Outcomes, not IT Assets

Forrester is calling this the “Age of the Customer,” where digitally empowered customers and digitally disruptive competitors show no mercy to the slow IT outfit. That is why, according to a ComputerWeekly article by Bobby Cameron, CIOs need a BT (business technology) agenda.

The Traffic Flow Model of IT

Cameron explains why customer patterns cannot be handled in the same way that software developers construct systems, which he compares to the building of bridges. Instead, customer behavior is more like your daily commute:

It is similar to managing traffic flow. We can’t know all the rules that determine traffic flow, as there are too many independent variables, each changing rapidly based on its own criteria. The same happens as customer patterns emerge and constantly change based on the customers’ experiences throughout the customer lifecycle. And, in turn, there is considerable uncertainty about which systems can best address customers’ unclear needs, such as which channels are the important ones and what works best.

Plan for Business Outcomes

Business outcomes are what CIOs should base their BT agenda upon. Outcomes with a high degree of uncertainty, such as customer retention or enrichment and advocacy, must be managed using relative measures to the changing landscape of budget, resource, and customer constraints.

Don’t hold back when it comes to outcomes, says Cameron. If CIOs stop even a little bit short, it’s back to the old slow-cycle demand management process. More specifically, if one tries to take the traditional annual planning approach (large projects and waterfall development) and simply make it faster, the result is going to be the same stale process with a layer of frustration added.

Iterative BT Improvement

The word “iterative” entails engaging customers by constantly changing funding, planning, delivery, deployments, and measurements. The phrase “continuous business services (CBSs)” means that a unique set of teams manages programs like they manage products. In this way, IT (through proper direction from the CIO) can spur an infrastructure of continuous improvement for BT to better serve the customer.

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