Business technology convergence changes the way IT thinks about IT

Many senior IT leaders these days are thinking about business technology convergence, but few can articulate how to do it as well as Faisal Hoque.

Hoque, CEO at Stamford, Conn.-based BTM Corp. and BTM Institute, was the keynote speaker at the first SearchCIO360 dinner event. He facilitated a discussion with a group of CIOs about changing the way businesses -- and IT leaders -- think about technology.

First, such terms as IT and alignment are dead, Hoque says in this CIO Innovators video interview before the dinner on Oct. 27, 2011. Information technology should be called business technology, he says, and alignment assumes that the business and the technology are separate entities, when in fact they are almost inextricably linked.

"Technology is the driver of the economy today," Hoque says. "So, one of the things we wanted to do was not highlight the technology, but what happens when you really apply a management approach to technology that enhances your sustainable growth."

"Technology is so integrated with business today and so much intertwined, you can't look at the value of technology from a sepa rate point of view. So, we look at it as, if you apply technology, did you grow the business as a result of it? Did you cut cost as a result of it or create some sort of efficiency?"

Hoque's new book, The Power of Convergence, discusses how to "link business strategies and technology decisions to create sustainable success." The key word here is sustainable. Businesses continuously transform themselves through technology that enables them to be more agile, more innovative and more efficient.

For more personal views from CIO innovators, look to the CIO Innovators page for profiles and videos; and watch for coming announcements about the next SearchCIO360 dinner events in your area.

Let us know what you think about the story; email [email protected].

Read the full transcript of this video below:

Business technology convergence changes the way IT thinks about IT

Scot Petersen:  Hello. I'm Scot Peterson, Editorial Director of the CIO IT Strategy Media Group at TechTarget. I'm with Faisal Hoque, Co-Founder and CEO of BTM Corp. and BTM Institute. Faisal is the featured speaker at the CIO 360 Dinner. Welcome, Faisal.

Faisal Hoque:  Thank you.

Scot Petersen:  Faisal, you're the author of a new book, "The Power of Convergence". Can you tell me what you were trying to accomplish with that?

Faisal Hoque:  Sure. As you know, technology is almost the driver for economy today. So, one of the things we wanted to do is not so much highlight the technology, but what happens when you really apply technology and you apply a management approach that enhances your sustainable growth? That was the object of the book.

Scot Petersen:  The approach you take mirrors the way investment managers use portfolio management.

Faisal Hoque:  Sure.

Scot Petersen:  Why is this a good technique for managing technology?

Faisal Hoque:  Well, I mean, if you look at the spending and if you look at the capital asset of any organization, technology and technology, not just IT technology, all sorts of technology probably covers most of your capital spending. So, if you're going to invest in assets that's going to be a driver for growth, and innovation, and agility, then you have to take a look at what's the value you're driving.

So when you take a portfolio kind of approach like the financial industry does, you're very value-driven. You become very value-driven. So that's why organizations, whoever is investing in technology or investing in business strategies that are enabled by technology, you have to take very much a financial view because it's all about financial results at the end of the day.

Scot Petersen:  So you talk about boosting financial performance through technology. But what's the best measure for success?

Faisal Hoque:  Sure. There's this misconception, whenever you do technology investment the people get very much hung up about the project ROI. That's a very wrong way of looking at things. Because at the end of day, there is no value of technology by in itself. Right? So the way to look at it is that if you apply technology, how it's impacting your business strategy and ultimately what kind of a result as an organization or as a corporation that you're gaining out of it.

 So it's very much like if you had a building or if you had other assets and you have HR, finance, you wouldn't go around and say, "What's the value of HR? What's the value of finance?" You would say, "What's the value of the corporation?" So, technology is so integrated with business today and so much intertwined you can't look at the value of technology from a separate point of view.

So we look at it from the point of view of, "Well, you applied technology. Did you grow the company as a result of it or did you cut cost as a result of it, or did you create some sort of efficiency as a result of technology usage?"

Scot Petersen:  In the book you talk about the transformation triangle. What is that exactly?

Faisal Hoque:  See, transformation, there's a lot of concept behind transformation. We look at transformation as an ever-going process where you're moving next stage and the next stage of evolutionary growth. So, if you look at it from that point of view, you can actually narrow it down to three primary things that drive transformation.

One is how quickly you move, meaning agility. One is how innovative you are, meaning not with technology, but utilization of technology. The third thing is how well do you operate to create your organization? So when you match those three things that's the triangular effect that moves the organization from point A to point B. So we define that as a transformational triangle.

Scot Petersen:  So how do you measure each of these corners of the triangle?

Faisal Hoque:  See, on a very fundamental level, we look at it from three points of view. One is what kind of management behavior that drives one of those constructs, meaning agility versus innovation, versus operational excellence. Second is what kind of business blueprint are you creating to drive innovation or drive operational excellence? The third element is what kind of key organizational capability do you have to make it happen? So you may have a great strategy. But the organization may not be capable to make it happen.

So we measure those kinds of elements with the financial result of a company. So if you mature those kinds of behaviors or those kinds of capabilities, does it improve your financial growth from point A to point B? So as you know, we've created several indexes around these areas. Each of the indexes kind of indicates the ability or inability to move from point A to point B from a financial point of view.

Scot Petersen:  So does this go beyond the term that we've been using a lot these days, business and technology alignment?

Faisal Hoque:  Yes. I mean, alignment is a dead word. Right? So because, how would you align? Alignment means that you have business separately and technology separately. Right. Then, from a maturity point of view that's the first mature level that allows you to kind of try to bring these two sides together. Today, you cannot imagine any organization, or even at an individual level, where technology is not intertwined with your life or with your organization.

So how would you separate those things? So we look at alignment as a first step of your maturity curve. Then you move to convergence. That's the ultimate curve where you don't separate those things from a strategy and execution point of view.

Scot Petersen:  So after dinner we're going to be talking about, sustained innovation.

Faisal Hoque:  Sure.

Scot Petersen:  How is it sustainable, and how is it managed? How do you manage innovation?

Faisal Hoque:  See, there is a lot of talk about Apple all the time, especially now given what's going on. If you look at Apple, a lot of people don't understand that even though Apple might have started with a disruptive technology, what has happened over the years, it has become very sustained. There are other examples. Like, for example, my previous employer, GE, they're constantly innovating new things, new processes, new business models.

So there's a difference between disruptive innovation and the sustained innovation where an organization continues to innovate. Sustained innovation requires heavy doses of process along with creativity, because it's the continuous evolution of products and services you're bringing to the market. So tonight we'll talk about, how do you go from this disruptive innovation to sustained innovation, and what drives it?      

So, two points of view we can look at from. One is that today you have to look global as your economy base. Right? It's not just your local. It's a global view. The second thing is that we have accessible technology, meaning you and I can start a company tomorrow because we have so much technology available on our hands. So, accessible technology, and then you look at the global customer, and can you create an economic model around it, and can you create a process so that you can constantly take advantage of it? That drives sustained innovation.

Scot Petersen:  So your processes that you're talking about are pretty accessible. You have self-assessment tests on your website.

Faisal Hoque:  Yeah.

Scot Petersen:  So what kind of indicators are you measuring there, and how can business and technology leaders take advantage of this?

Faisal Hoque:  So we look at organizations' key capabilities to effect those triangular things that we just talked about, whether it's for innovation or operational efficiency, or being able to be agile. Each of those are actually backed up by set up key enablements. So for what I mean by that, you can look at governance as an example as a process.

Governance means a lot of things. I mean, you can have board level governance or you can have project level governance. You could have project level investment. You could have a corporate-wide investment. You could have a project architecture. But you could also have an enterprise architecture.

So you can start dissecting it from that point of view and say, "Okay, for each of those capabilities, do you have the right organization? Do you have the right process? Do you have the right automation so that you're getting the right information? Do you have the right information criteria that align to make a set of decisions?" Meaning that, not just have the information, what kind of information do you need to make the right decision at a different level?

So our assessment forces an organization to answer to themselves. Do you have the right organization? Do you have the right process, and do you have the technology, meaning some sort of automation and information criteria that allows you to do a certain task? Those certain tasks become a repeatable process. Right? Then you can do that over and over again. So, it doesn't matter whether the market changed or you want to go after a new market. You develop that as a key capability, and as a result you become a better organization.

Scot Petersen:  Great. One last question. What do you want the attendees of the 360 event tonight to walk out with?

Faisal Hoque:  Two things. One is that when we talk about innovation and often most of the organizations... This is worldwide, by the way. It's not just here in the US. Most of the people are looking for transformative growth. So we'll define what we mean by transformative growth and where does innovation play a role in it. The second thing is what are the key capabilities that you'll need to make that happen on a repeated basis? So those are the two areas we'll focus on tonight.

Scot Petersen:  Okay. Thanks, Faisal.

Faisal Hoque:  Thank you.

Scot Petersen:  We've been talking with Faisal Hoque, CEO of the BTM Corp. and BTM Institute. I'm Scot Peterson, Editorial Director of the CIO IT Strategy Media Group at TechTarget. Thanks for watching.



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