Business Value of IT – ?? !! Exactly !

Having been in technology business for the last decade and a half, never has the question of ‘what is the value of IT’ been louder than it is today.
Whenever I pickup a business magazine like HBR, I have always come across an article on how the CEO or owner of a company needs to understand technology and how to leverage it. OR there is the recurring article on how a CIO feels that he/she deserves a seat at Board table.
I have been pondering on this issue for quite a while now and have come to a preliminary conclusion that the Technology Industry is itself to blame.
Whenever you talk to a CIO or a technology consultant (who likes to be called a business analyst), the conversation is always around mobile, Internet, big data, twitter, social media , real time connectivity , cloud etc. etc.
All of us in the tech Industry create enough Marketing hype to drown the CIO in a myriad of confusing acronyms, products and consultants.  The focus always is the technology. And don’t forget that in this innovation driven Industry, there is always something new every three months.
I like to view technology as a utility. Just like electricity or gas. It serves its purpose for enabling an activity that is focused on an outcome. The outcome is what really provides BUSINESS VALUE.
Starting the discussion with a customer or a prospect around a business outcome is always the right thing to do. I know people who like to jump on to the social media bandwagon by creating twitter or Facebook campaigns without really thinking through their product or brand strategy.
Or for that matter setting up HADOOP servers just because they want to have a BIG DATA strategy.
For the technology-un-initiated , this appears to be a lot of activity but without clear outcomes. The business (CEO, Marketing, Sales and Support) start to lose patience in the complex IT jungle. We are already seeing CMO starting to take IT decisions on their own for their marketing activities.
And not to mention the perception of IT being a cost and having the CIO port into the Chief Financial Officer.
I’m sorry. In my view, the CIO needs to either be a part of the CEO’s core team or be a strategic function under the Chief Strategy Officer.
In today’s context ,the questions that CEOs really need to be asking
– how can technology help me get closer to my customers and provide stickiness for what my organisation provides
– how can I drive efficiencies of internal operations to reduce cost and increase time to market using IT
– how can I use technology to increase my addressable market by either getting into newer offerings or identifying newer routes to market
– how can I use technology to disrupt my business value chain and differentiate myself in the market
These are the blue ocean questions that a CIO or a tech consultant needs to answer for the business and become a driving force in the growth of their organisation.
Because, what i foresee of the future – the technology revolution is just starting.

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