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Predictions 2018: CIOs Will Say Goodbye to Chief Digital Officers (CDOs)

Author: Matthew Guarini

When I look back at my time as a CIO, I often say it was only half-Dickensian. I bet you can guess which half! Legacy was rampant. Ops models and operating frameworks were based on dated theories. Just as folks felt like they were getting a handle on things, what happens but this thing called digital. Sprinkle in a whole new set of business models, emerging technologies, and customers more powerful than ever, and every step forward felt like two steps back.

Shoot forward to today, and CIOs have never had a better opportunity to bring balance into their operation, and dare I say, even shift to the best of times. Everything you need is in front of you. Tech spend is on the rise exceeding — for the first time — $3 trillion globally and $1.5 trillion in the US. Emerging technologies are starting to yield real value. Talent is available, but you will have to think creatively about how to engage, nurture, and retain it. Automation and AI are supplementing the workforce to provide greater levels of efficiency and insight. Operating frameworks like Agile and DevOps are there to increase your speed while enhancing quality.

The cumulative effect of these moves is fast, connected technology that drives value for the enterprise. In 2018, Forrester predicts that – done right – CIOs will render the role of the Chief Digital Officer obsolete as he/she will provide the technology and service that allows your company to succeed in the Age of the Customer. For example, as outlined in our 2018 predictions for CIOs:

  • Digital business platforms are a wave and companies will either build them or deliver through them. A few will do both. Regardless, CIOs will have to orchestrate the underlying technologies and supplier relationships for companies to manage their platform-based business approach. This requires a full commitment to leveraging the cloud and open source software, as well as investments in new architectures that build on APIs and microservices as core components to connect to the partner network.
  • With a few years’ experience with Agile and DevOps under their belts, 2018 will be the year CIOs use this expertise to raise the game for customer-obsessed delivery across the enterprise. CIOs will leverage their best tech leaders to support the transition, and this will forge improved relationships between the business and technology. And with CEO and board eyes on speed-to-market, the CIO’s star will also ascend.
  • VCs make money when their portfolio companies deliver successful products and solutions and CIOs can learn a lot from them. As CIOs realize the potential in 2018, their first step will be to adopt a portfolio management approach to tracking, testing, and implementing new technologies across an array of technologies and use cases. A second step for CIOs will be to leverage innovation ecosystems. Last, CIOs will leverage these technologies to support major shifts in their business models like subscription models, platforms, and prediction.

It is a change, but CIOs making this evolution will solidify their hold on the technology agenda in their company. This will put the CIO and the team on the ascendancy.


Matthew Guarini is VP and research director at Forrester, where he serves CIOs. Read more Forrester Research blogs here.

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