CIOs Face Changes, Volatility In 2017, Forrester Predicts

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IT transitions will accelerate in 2017 as CIOs look to deliver business outcomes, develop technologies that serve customers, and embrace new technologies such as AI and AR, according to Forrester Research. Here's a look at the research firm's predictions for the new year.

If you thought 2016 was crazy, just wait for 2017. Forrester Research is predicting volatility for enterprise IT organizations next year as customers gain more influence, and CIOs will find they need to accelerate the pace of change.

Forrester released its predictions in the new report, Predictions 2017: CIOs Push For Speed Amid Volatility.

CIOs used to be in the utility business -- maintaining and operating the systems that run the business. But that charter is changing as organizations embed technology into the products and services they offer to their own customers. Now CIOs must make their business's customers a central focus of the IT organization.

"If you are a CIO and you are out there delivering business outcomes, that's the thing that will help you be successful," said report author Matthew Guarini, in an interview with InformationWeek. "If you stay within the realm of what IT looked like 5 or 10 years ago, there's a risk that your IT organization will be marginalized."

That's not the message that some IT pros will want to hear as they grapple with flat budgets and legacy infrastructure. But just because you don't want to hear about the approaching challenges doesn't mean they will stop coming until you are ready for them.

"The ability for new companies to come in and disrupt industries has been amazing," Guarini said. CIOs need to prepare their strategies and their teams for those approaching changes.

"Firms need to be customer-led and insights driven," he said. "They need to move fast, and they need to be connected."

[Looking for more predictions for 2017 and beyond? Read Gartner's 10 Tech Predictions That Will Change IT.]

The term "customer-obsessed" appears repeatedly throughout the new Forrester report, and it's something that CIOs at progressive organizations need to embrace, according to the report.

And while these changes really should be driven from the CEO-level down, that might not always happen. But even without that support, CIOs can work to build partnerships with other senior-level executives -- the CMO or the CFO -- to get started to drive these needed changes for customer focus and speed.

For instance, a partnership with the CFO could support a new trend in budgeting where companies look at quarterly investment cycles rather than annual cycles. Working together, the CIO and the CFO could apply Agile thinking and development sprints to the budgeting process, Guarini said.

Forrester broke out several trends in its 2017 predictions report. If you want to get ready for next year's volatility and speed, we've collected an assortment of those predictions for you here. 

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