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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Questions for the C-Suite

The earliest experiences I had with the global enterprise were working directly with the CEO.   He had built a system that ran on an early desktop, I helped with its expansion.   In that early work I learned that even back then the C-Suite cared about the direct use of computing power to help their decision making.  They also much cared about the data that would drive these systems.  There was a big gap in time before executives cared as much again.

IBM, as part of their Institute for Business Value asked a lot of executives about how they interacted with technologies. And also with each other about technology. And where they thought the opportunities and challenges existed.   This was the first attempt to study the entire C-Suite, and it was interesting to see how this fragmented with C Suite responsibilities. That had changed much since my first work with them.     ....  The scale was impressive:

" ... We now have data from more than 23,000 interviews stretching back to 2003.

Our latest study draws on input from:
Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) 884 Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) 576 Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) 342 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) 1,656 Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) 524 Chief Supply Chain Officers (CSCOs) 201 ... " 

In an interesting aside, IBM's Watson AI system was used to analyze the interview data.  I look forward to hearing more about that.

It is a remarkable study.  Which also emphasizes the current opinions and their forecasts for the near future.  While it probably means most for the complexity of the large enterprise, it gives lessons to Mid Market firms as well.  In one paragraph they provide a good summary:

" ... How do you view the world?

CEOs consider technology the single most important external force shaping their organizations. Other CxOs also see it as one of the top three factors. The members of  the C-suite are likewise united in believing that an entirely new set of dynamics is emerging. 

Customers and citizens expect to be treated as individuals, which means knowing what makes each of us “tick”:  our values, beliefs, habits and quirks. That, in turn, requires much closer collaboration between organizations and  the people they serve.

Most CxOs recognize that what applies to customers  and citizens applies to employees and partners, too.  They envisage that organizational boundaries will become far more porous, enabling greater collaboration with employees and partners to accelerate innovation. They  also anticipate sourcing more of that innovation from outside. Where once an enterprise could go it alone, and  be successful doing so, it must now collaborate. .... " 

There is much detail beyond that, each using a small pie chart to indicate the changes over time.   I don't think the pies where necessary, but they were often joined by bar and time charts that indicated change that had occurred.

I attended the preview of the study, a good overview,  it would have been better to add a few case studies about C-Suite communications of data and responsibilities.   I was also surprised that little was said about funding, is it more of an issue in a world where we are automating more interactions?   How do changes in the economy change investment in digitization?   A nod to investment, which could have helped understanding how different size organizations would behave.

In particular I liked the statement about the future of these interactions:

" ... Pioneer digital-physical innovation:

The emergence of social, mobile and digital networks has played a big part in democratizing the relationship between organizations and their customers. It’s also forcing them to rethink how they work. Some 60 percent of CxOs now look to partners who will have an equal hand in creating business value (see Figure 4, foldout). And almost half are sourcing innovation from the outside .... "

Overall a good study.  provocative read.  You can get to the whole study (with registration) here.  

 Also , see their Android, IOS App: IBM IBV which covers the study and on Twitter:  @IBMIBV  I have found their stream quite interesting.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.  #MidsizeIBM

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