CW500: Five technology forces that will change businesses forever

CIOs have a unique opportunity to take the lead in innovation as disruptive technologies overturn traditional business models

CIOs face an unprecedented opportunity to drive innovation in their organisations over the next year.

But there are huge challenges ahead as organisations face disruptive technologies that threaten to overturn the traditional businesses models.

Technology is moving so quickly that being a large company is no longer a guarantee of survival, IT leaders at Computer Weekly’s 500 Club heard.

“There really has been a tipping point where being big and having the efficiencies of scale may now actually be a disadvantage," says Mark White, chief technology officer of Deloitte Consulting's technology practice.

Having corporate muscle and cash in the bank is no guarantee of success, he says. Witness the fall from grace of Nokia, for example, or the difficulties faced by BlackBerry.


  • Mark White, CTO, Deloitte Consulting LLP's Technology practice
  • Kevin Walsh, practice leader for technology consulting, Deloitte
  • Tim Jennings, chief analyst for enterprise IT, Ovum 
  • Sam Gordon, director, La Fosse Associates

Every business, regardless of geography, company size or industry, is having to address the same five sweeping forces:

  • Business analytics
  • Mobile computing
  • Social media
  • Cloud computing
  • Risk intelligence

Each force is technology focused, each is rapidly evolving, and each of them will have a significant affect on your business, says White.

“It is a place where the IT executive can bring not only enablement, but potentially innovation to the business," he says.

The scale of the impact of these technologies is difficult to over-estimate, says White. 

Image goes hereMark White, Deloitte Consulting

He compares it to the transition that businesses went through in the late 1980s. Then Michael Hammer’s influential book, Reengineering the Corporation, changed the way business leaders thought about the enterprise. 

Companies abandoned their traditional silo structures and reorganised themselves around workflows.

“That concept totally transformed how businesses organise and operate,” says White.

The changes facing businesses are just as dramatic today. Technology has created a new set of rules for businesses. We are entering the post-digital era, he says, and that is opening up new opportunities for CIOs.

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Exploiting information for business insight

Companies are moving away from gut instinct decision-making to a more systematic approach to exploiting sources of information, Tim Jennings, chief analyst for enterprise IT at Ovum, told IT leaders at a meeting of Computer Weekly’s 500 Club.

But while there has been much talk of the impact of big data, fast data is just as important, if not more important, he says.

The ability to make decisions an order of magnitude more quickly is really a game changer, he says, but companies will have to get their governance and information management processes in place to take advantage of it.

Transforming service delivery

Organisations are starting to use private and public cloud services to deliver IT services in more effective ways.

But shared services, managed services and outsourcing will also play an increasing role in transforming IT services, says Jennings.

“It is really a case of taking a portfolio approach with a particular project and a particular business capability which offers the right fit,” he says.

Image goes hereTim Jennings, Ovum

Promoting IT-enabled business innovation

If IT carries on along the path it has followed for the past decade or more, we are not going to change quickly enough to meet the challenges ahead, says Jennings.

The answer is to become more agile and to educate colleagues in the rest of the business about the innovative potential technology has for the business, he says.

The CIO has the opportunity to take a leading role in driving innovation in the organisation, he says, as mobile technology, social media and big data begin to transform how organisations work.

“Those initiatives are not going to succeed without your very strong input and involvement,” says Jennings.

That does not meant CIOs can ignore the day-to-day slog of keeping IT systems running and up to date, but as the business transforms, it should be easier to win funding for IT modernisation from the board.

Building the customer adaptive enterprise

Improving customer satisfaction – and customer intimacy – is a top priority for businesses as they adapt to the digital world.

There is a lot of work going on in organisations to improve the customer experience by joining up sales channels – a concept increasingly referred to as the omni-channel.

Companies are under pressure to roll these initiatives out quickly, but many will have to be rethought within a year. “That is not really wrong, as there are cases where speed is absolutely of the essence,” says Jennings.

CIOs need to work with the business to plan a long-term strategy for mobile technology and social media, he says. “The companies that develop that customer experience will be the winners.”


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