New CIO role: Spot disruptive technologies and help develop new products


Most companies are good at keeping an eye on their traditional markets and traditional competitors. But these days, new and disruptive forms of competition can pop up in the most unexpected places -- startups, college dorms, Asian outposts, Web 2.0 and consumer technologies. How does your company keep an eye out for out-of-the-blue competition and unexpected market opportunities?

A new survey of 181 high-tech industry strategists finds that while most respondents say their companies are able to identify market-altering change, only 25% believe they can anticipate such changes. And here's where the CIO can grab a new opportunity.

In an interview, John Ciacchella, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and leader of its technology industry group, said CIOs can play the following roles to help strategic planners:

  • Be the architect of the "sensor network" that helps the CEO discover new market entrants and new market opportunities. Provide visibility not only into core markets but also into untraditional markets.
  • Be an early warning system regarding new technologies, such as Web. 2.0 and consumer technologies, where much of today's innovation is occurring.
  • Look for ways to incorporate those new technologies into the company's market-facing products and services.

It may take a cultural shift (open minds) for the company to let the CIO play a role in new-product development, Ciacchella said. But with some of the CIO's duties being commoditized or outsourced, this is a wide-open opportunity for savvy CIOs to add business value, he said.

The study, "Competition at the Crossroads: Strategic Planning and Action in Disruptive Markets," was conducted by the Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum and Deloitte Consulting’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications group.


Related: The Wide-Ranging CIO
Update: More on this general topic here.

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