It’s no longer permissible for chief executives not to know about technology, Forrester's George Colony told delegates at the analyst firm's annual IT forum in Edinburgh.
"It doesn't mean the CEO has to know what service oriented architecture is, but he or she should have a rudimentary knowledge of how technology can generate revenue for the business," Forrester chief executive Colony said in his keynote address. "How many boards would let a CEO get away without knowing marketing? They wouldn't. So why let a CEO get a pass for not knowing technology?"
Colony said the role of IT had changed to "business technology", or "BT”.
"It's not IT anymore. The term 'IT' is no longer appropriate, because technology is more than closing books or how many products have been sold. Today, technology is inextricably interwoven and combined with the business. They are one and the same," he said.
Colony called on chief executives to do the "scream test" - unplugging all the plugs and seeing how long it takes for the employees to scream. "Can you develop products without technology? Can you develop revenue?"
Technologists must also get involved in the boardroom, to help the chief information officer teach the chief executive and to "hold the hand" of the purchasing officer, Colony said.
"Out of the top 20 companies in US, 11 have techies in their board. Out of the top 20 companies in Europe six have techies in their boardroom. So Europe has a bit more to go in its transition to business technology."
Marketing and technology should also work together if an enterprise wants to transition to become a business technology enterprise, according to Colony.
"Great marketing and great technology working together is the only way forward. They need to intermarry. They are a bit like cats and dogs. It has to happen, even if it's an unnatural act, if you want to achieve BT."