CEOs as Technologists
I’ve always been interested in what the CEO of Forrester Research has to say. George Colony started talking about social CEOs earlier than most, like us. He was recently featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal about how CEOs urgently need to get on board the technology train or stay stuck on the tracks. “It doesn’t matter if you sell insurance or tires, you will be a software company. And your most important assets, if you are going to survive, aren’t your financial assets, they will be your software assets. You will be in direct competition with Google, with Microsoft, with SAP. “
We all know that CEOs would never be given the job of chief executive unless they understood finance and marketing. But he imagines the time is not far off when CEOs will not be given the job unless they understand technology and its impact on customers. So where will companies find these new CEOs? Right now they are most likely to be found among GenXers and GenYs, segments which most boards have no clue about where to find and where the talent lies. No doubt Colony is thinking about the selection process for the next CEO of Microsoft — a question I was asked just the other night. Colony has given it some thought and posits that this new breed of future CEO needs to understand “clock speed—the difference in operational tempo between software companies and traditional enterprises.” Essentially, he is saying that the new CEO of the future is going to have to be as adept at capturing and using all this information as quickly as customers are at using it. It is not just all about the transactions that technology now allows but understanding real-time customer preferences and patterns. How the world has changed. The article ends with a great quote from Sohaib Abbase, CEO of Informatica. Abbase is quoted as saying that the purpose of computing in the past “was all about how do I optimize transactions in [human resources], in finance, in sales, etc. Now it is all about how do I facilitate interactions in order for me to optimize brand management. This is a significant change, from business productivity to brand management.”
A new world has dawned for CEOs. Hard to imagine but CEO reputations will be shaped by CEOs’ use of technology. It is not that far off.