Many of you may have seen Gartner's recent research report / article that addressed the subject of “How CIO’s Can Determine Which Emerging Technologies CEO’s Will Want.” The objective of the research was to introduce a methodology for CIO’s to identify the emerging technologies that will help CEO’s and boards of directors attain their midterm to long-term goals. We put Gartner's findings and recommendations to a panel of CIO’s, CTO’s & Directors and we’re pleased to share their feedback with you below: You can read the research report here: “Gartner – emerging technologies report”

CIO / CTO / Director Panel Feedback on the Gartner research:

The first feedback we received was from Gary Lloyd, Director of Double Loop Consulting , who flatly disagreed with Gartner's findings...

Are Gartner really telling us that ‘CEO's know exactly what they want’ but are not prepared to talk with their CIO's about it? That CIO's should have to trawl public statements to figure out what they should be doing? That CEO's don’t want to talk about the most expensive and risky expenditure in their business, let alone how it might enable or even be the business strategy? If true, it would be a terrible indictment of business leadership, tantamount to negligence. Business leaders who do not take leadership of IT are businesses that will be supplanted by those who do. I am pretty sure that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, has no problem expressing what he wants to his CIO. However, it’s not too difficult think of some competitors who may have enjoyed the sort of CEO/CIO relationship that Gartner imply with their truly terrifying advice.

Yet, Cliff Moyce, experienced CxO, took a different standpoint...

I like it.  It is something that I have attempted with varying degrees of success with emerging technologies at LIFFE, M&G, Markit, and Britannia.  My feedback is based mainly on these experiences. 1. What do I like about it? - It formalises something that can be so informal at work that it never gets done.  As a CIO you can easily spend your whole day dealing with operational and people issues, and satisfying the demands of the machine for endless information on budgets and head-counts, and in so doing never properly explore the possibilities of emerging technologies.  This leaves you simply reacting to competitors use of such technologies. - "CEO's do not want emerging technologies".  I agree fully.  ET's represent risk.  You will do well to get it right as often as you get it wrong.  However, where a CIO can demonstrate that an emerging technology can make a real and substantial difference, then CEO's will back it.  CEO's do not want to be involved in technology horizon scanning - that's the CIO's job. - "CIO's are wrongfully waiting for strategic business plans…."  Again, I agree fully (but not with the grammar!).  Nobody at Cxx level should be waiting for plans.  Where plans are required they should push for them to be done, or do them themselves as a straw man for others (including the CEO) to comment.  No plan survives first contact (von Moltke the Elder) so plans should not be overly reified either.  This concurs with your first two recommendations. - "Assign specific staff members to acquire expert knowledge…"  Agreed.  The pitfalls are that is you dedicate people to this full time (as happened to a former colleague now at JP Morgan) then you get forgotten about and become a target for HR; and if you add it someone's objectives alongside lots of other stuff, then it gets forgotten by them and is never delivered.  The second approach with the right people is the best way forward.  Markit created and protected their 'laboratory' to allow people to do this. 2. Where might I take issue? - "CEO's know exactly what they want".  Once you get beyond increasing sale / new markets / maintained or improved margins, then I have never met a CEO who knows exactly what he/she wants.  CEO's rely on input from their direct reports - and collaboration with their senior team - to decide what would be next for the corporation.  It's nice when the CEO has a very clear vision that you know intuitively is correct (e.g. Peter Middleton at Lloyd's of London), but it's not that common.  The worst type of CEO who pretends to know exactly what they want - when they clearly don't (e.g. changing goals and objectives on a too-regular basis). - The template seems to assume a rather formal and distant relationship between CEO and CIO, with formal meetings being the main or only engagement.  In reality, many such relationships are hugely informal and conversational.  Where the relationship is formal and distant then the approach suggested is a good one.  Where the relationship is more informal, then the CIO needs to work hard to listening to the nuances of what is being said, and relating it the existing technologies.  Often what is being said is a clue that those technologies will not be adequate for what will be needed in the near future. - The methodology assumes a CEO led top-down approach.  I feel it is up to CIO's to drive the thinking of the CEO and the board with their own ideas and those of their teams.  In reality is should be a two-way street.

We also received some additional perspectives from other CTO's / CIO's, which we have summarised below...

This is an interesting way of looking at CEO needs and applying niche technologies. However the CEO needs is one lens - others could be market data, other internal management needs. Once these are all taken into account a filter of prioritisation and weighting needs to take place in selecting the right technologies unless we are saying the CEO's views trumps all others.

Summary: If you'd like to add your comments to this article, or you wish to contribute to future industry and technology articles, then please contact philip.fanthom@jenrick.co.uk.