The top technology slot in the enterprise has changed. Once, forward-looking CTOs and CIOs scanned the horizon for new technologies that would improve the lot of IT. Today, as many of this year’s top 25 CTOs can tell you, technology leaders must also focus on understanding the business goals of the enterprise -- and then craft technology strategies to meet those objectives.
The story of Scott Metzger, CTO of the financial services firm TrueCredit and one of this year’s winners, provides a parable for how technology leadership has evolved. He joined TrueCredit when it was a startup at the height of the dot-com boom, where junior staff infatuated with its own technology flailed at the whiteboard and failed to deliver. Metzger whipped things into shape by learning about the company’s business opportunities first -- and then laying out a technology road map to help make those prospects real.
Even CTOs at technology companies are getting with the program. Russell Daniels, who as vice president and CTO of HP Software leads the development of the OpenView line, firmly believes that allocation and management of network and system infrastructure should be tied directly to measurable business impact.
The new business-oriented mindset sometimes leads to radical thinking. To concentrate fully on innovation, Frank Modruson, CIO of Accenture, spun off the operations side of Accenture’s IT as a separate business, which allowed it to scale, take on other customers, and become a revenue center.
All of us at InfoWorld, not to mention our readers, take a degree of pride in our understanding of technology. But as we discover how to battle the latest security threat or delve into the intricacies of loosely coupled systems, we’ve learned the best technology is that which is so closely coupled with the business, you can barely tease the two apart.