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Analysts Advise CIOs and Employees Make Decisions Together

Employees no longer rely on IT to provision and deliver technology. Data center functions are outsourced; workers increasingly use social media, mobile tools, the cloud, and video to bypass IT. Many CIOs are concerned they they're losing control of their domain. Welcome to the "empowered era."

While many pundits are writing the CIO's obituary, Forrester believes these changes offer CIOs an opportunity to become more influential by supporting and facilitating business needs. In the empowered era, CIOs are not merely technologists who success is measured by uptime and availability. But to succeed, they need to do the following:

1. Invest in business outcomes, not just business requirements. Business outcomes should drive IT funding. Instead of blindly following orders to deliver technology, IT needs to act as a business partner to optimize the broader technology portfolio. CIOs should measure IT's success by tracking its impact on outcomes such as revenue, growth and customer engagement.

2. Focus on empowerment and innovation, not just execution. Successful CIOs create opportunities for the organization to innovate and are willing to take risks with disruptive technologies. By encouraging innovation and providing technology platforms that contribute to product development, IT leaders help drive growth.

3. Be a services orchestrator, not just a technology supplier. CIOs need to radically change the IT delivery model. As siloed IT functions merge in a new shared services model similar to other corporate functions, technology will be consumed as a business service. The CIO will be responsible for delivering the service, irrespective of where that service is being sourced.

If IT asserts too much control, empowered employees will bypass the IT organization. But if you let the business drive all technology decisions, there will be integration, ownership and scalability issues. (For more on this topic, read "What CIOs Should Do About Rogue IT.")

Khalid Kark is a vice president and research director at Forrester Research, where he serves CIOs.

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