CIO Strategy and Investment Planning in 2020

Recent research from Deloitte describes on the Chief Information Role in 2020 and the relationship between IT and the Chief Financial Officer. Deloitte's Global Chief Technology Officer presents the research and explains the implications.


Mar 06, 2020

Recent research from Deloitte sheds light on the CIO role and the relationship between IT, the CFO, and other business stakeholders. We speak with the Global Chief Technology Officer of Deloitte to discuss the research and its implications for both the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Financial Officer.

Bill Briggs is the Chief Technology Officer for Deloitte Consulting, former global lead of Deloitte Digital, and a Director in the US technology practice. Bill is a strategist with deep implementation experience – helping clients anticipate the impact that new and emerging technologies may have on their business in the future and getting there from the realities of today.


This transcript has been lightly edited.


Michael Krigsman: Technology shapes business but what's the impact on the chief information officer, what's the impact on the CFO and also that relationship? Bill Briggs, tell us about Deloitte and tell us about your role as the global chief technology officer.

Bill Briggs: Deloitte, 175th anniversary this year, as you said, the biggest professional services firm in the world. We help our clients across the globe, public-private sector, solve their biggest problems. Just think of us as helping imagine, deliver, and run the future and it could be consulting where I spend my time or tax, audit, or financial advisory services. By the way, you need all of those to come together to really be able to affect the kind of change that's possible today.

My role, I lead our emerging technology research, like with Tech Trends is a flagship piece we do every year. It's the 11th year that we've done that. I also own our broader incubation agenda, so the places we're investing with our clients, for our clients to make sure we're ready on horizon next, horizon beyond, so anything from cloud and AI, those significant investments to the things a little bit more in the future like our blockchain, quantum, and the like.

With that, I have teams around the globe driving, sensing, shaping, and the incubation, the innovation. I also spend almost all of my time in the market with clients, helping shape their strategy.

What is Deloitte’s Tech Trends 2020 Report?

Michael Krigsman: You've just released this report. It's a very big document. Give us a sense of the kind of ground that you cover in the report and why did you choose these topics?

Bill Briggs: The Tech Trends, when we started, the mission was 18 to 24 months out. Anything we talk about, we wanted to make sure it wasn't just the technology, but it was it's being applied inside the enterprise, in the market, in industry. The rule is, they all have to have real client examples we can point to, real industry luminaries that can make it real. That hasn't changed 11 years later.

What's been great is to see the audience. Eleven years ago, it was for a CIO. It was for a tech exec. That was the extent of it, really. It was to help make sure their conversational to confident to driving the right investments.

Fast-forward to today and you could say the pace of change is increasing. What I like about the report is it helps make what seems like an unknowable future a little bit more known.

Also, the audience has shifted from the CIO, the CTO, and the tech exec. They're still hugely important. We'll talk about that evolving role. It's as much time with the CXO suite, the CEO, and the board because every company is a technology company.

The question becomes, how do you make sense of all the change happening, have confidence where you invest, and what do you do? That's really the intent.

The report goes deep. If someone wants to really just dig into the future of digital twins and the future of architecture, that certainly is a way you can read it. It's really meant to be broader. Let's make sure that it has context, that it resonates in with the business, in with the agency lead for the public sector.

The tone in the note is one of hope and helping spark ambition because there's so much opportunity. It's just a question of what do we do.

Michael Krigsman: What are some of the key issues or trends that you've covered in the report?

Bill Briggs: Each chapter is a different trend. There's a through-line narrative about how they have to come together. No individual trend is enough. The tension that we feel is that a Tech Trends report is supposed to be, in some way, full of novelty. There's some expectation for a shiny object parade of things I haven't heard of, thought of, invested in before. The fundamental tension with that and if I'm with a board, a C-suite, with a line of business leader, the things that matter most to their agenda today might not be the same things that would be the shinier objects on that parade.

What we've done is said, "Hey, the first and the last chapter are a bit of, let's take a look back and step back and look across." The first chapter is basically saying the pattern we can see across all the trends that we featured over 11 years and all the work we do to track thousands of emerging technologies, here are the big things that matter and how they play together.

The words that are going to be familiar for the audience here, but what is the through-line between cloud, AI, blockchain, and digital reality into risk and core modernization? How do they come together? The first chapter, if I'm with a more business audience, it's typically all I'll use to say, "Here are the big things you should care about that matter the most."

The last chapter is the other bookend that says, "And let's light up the horizon next, horizon beyond. The people we have across the globe with startups and with academia," so it's almost a much broader lens of probably a little bit more on that novelty scale of things that are coming that might matter. The whole point of it is, how do you have confidence in what you should today?

I like those two chapters as one theme. There are a lot of knowns that we can have confidence to invest in and we have to have an approach to sense, shape, make sense, and invest in what's coming next (indiscernible, 00:05:40) today. That's one big takeaway.

Michael Krigsman: Give me a couple of examples.

Bill Briggs: In the first chapter, we have the macro. We call it the macro forces, the big tech forces that matter more than any, up to today and looking forward. One of the client stories that we highlight is what FedEx has done bringing those together in their operations. Is it to explore new businesses?

It's really powerful to see how it's not one of those individual pieces that's the dominant. It's easy to say it's the age of, fill in the blank. It's the age of cloud. It's the age of AI. It's the age of soon to be quantum. But the real story is how they've had to go through a core modernization journey, their data story, how they've applied advanced AI and do a digital twin of their entire, you know, the physical bits moving, the operational bits, and how that all comes together.

The point is, none of those individual investments would be sufficient and none of those individual technologies can form the strategy. Right? I think that's the theme here. Ingredients are really important to have confidence, but the recipes are what matters – full stop. That's it.

Digital Transformation and Technology

Michael Krigsman: How does the technology dimension layer on top of this as opposed to the business strategy dimension?

Bill Briggs: You have to have the depth to make sure that you're executing on. Take cloud, AI, and cyber as just three of the major forces that are highlighted here. The level of nuance on what's the right way to implement them in 2020 and how do they come together, that's a piece that has to be there front and center and is there front and center.

I think the interesting thing is, I'm a computer engineer that did an MBA over the years because I wanted to round out my background. As a technologist, I'd always tell my teams, my teams would always tell me, we've got to speak the language of the business. What's interesting is, the flipside is becoming increasingly real that the business has to speak the language of technology at a much deeper level than a flyby.

I read an article. We listened to a fantastic podcast and now our head is full of buzzwords. Let's go and be irresponsible. This interesting push for CEOs to say, "My team has to be tech-savvy. My board has to be tech-savvy," that plays out in these stories as well.

Michael Krigsman: How does a business or board gain the expertise in technology that you're describing?

Bill Briggs: Almost always. One, there has to be this broader mandate to say it's important. A CIO can help champion it, but they can't make that a reality.

The best stories we've seen have strong CEOs that have really taken this as a mantra, "We're going to build the bank that the tech companies would build. Therefore, we're going to transform." We highlighted Capital One's story a few years ago. They're one of those.

You've got to look at it. It's not an agenda item on the fallboard meeting. Having me come in, spend three hours, and have a rousing discussion does not tech-savviness, tech fluency you make, right? It's programmatic, how do we build a culture that we have?

Some folks call them digital academies. Some folks call them tech colleges. It's this commitment for continuous learning into and across from the executive team down the line. It becomes a part of this culture of not just doing digital or doing random acts of digital but actually becoming digital, becoming more tech-centered in their strategy.

The programmatic aspect of the culture shift is huge here. It will be a mix of being sustained every time the executive team comes together. There is a tech-savvy moment that they're lighting up something that's happening that they didn't know about. It's going to be some more classroom-based activity. Not maybe in the physical classroom, but some curriculum that's being defined.

It could also be as extreme as one of our clients saying, "We need every one of our executive team and line of business leaders, effectively the management committee. They all have to go through a cloud boot camp, hands-on keyboard," and they're not writing extensions to TensorFlow. [Laughter] But they're understanding how these pieces have to come together and doing themselves, which is really powerful. Typically, it triggers a whole different level of conversation about what could we do next.

Michael Krigsman: Is becoming digital synonymous with executives becoming tech-savvy?

Bill Briggs: It's a piece. When you have functional leaders, when you have BU leaders that have been in the role for a while, there are some biases. There are some experiences they've had around technology. This gets to a little bit of the future of the IT organization and the CIO.

How do you help spark the understanding of what's possible with technologies today and technologies tomorrow? What we've found a lot of success, we've invested in greenhouse labs to bring together with a lot of demo and show, not tell, but then actively facilitate discussions to start saying, "Hey, what would we do in an unconstrained world to either directly compete with your core business or to identify unmet needs? They've existed for so long; you just accept them as constraints that are forever going to be here. How could we potentially challenge those orthodoxies with this combination of technologies?

The other piece is, we have a team around the globe. We call it our catalyst group. I love the word "catalyst." My dad was a chemical engineer. We want to amplify and accelerate a reaction without being consumed therein. That's a hell of a mantra. I like that.

It's really the combination of the ecosystem, startups and, in some cases, VCs and academia with our clients where they have either a business problem or they have a market opportunity that they're circling and we'll bring them to Tel Aviv and do four days of a series of not Shark Tank pitches of, "We want you to invest in us," but here are potential ingredients that you could apply to a recipe that really is going to matter in your world. We do that around the globe—that's a really powerful mix—with some other established alliance partners and our alliance partners as well. It's not always just a startup, but just to spark the new idea of what could be possible.

Michael Krigsman: We have another very good question from Arsalan Khan.

Bill Briggs: Yeah.

Michael Krigsman: Which is better, a tech-savvy CEO or a business-first CIO? How do you cultivate this culture change?

Bill Briggs: I hope we see more tech-savvy CEOs that rose from the ranks of being a business-savvy CIO, to start with. I think that's a few we're approaching.

I think either one by themselves does not transformation make. You say which one is more important? Typically, if you have a tech-driven CEO that has a vision for really being bold, they'll either have a CIO that's ready to take on that charter or they're going to be looking for one soon to fill that rank.

The tech-savvy CEO that has the gumption, the passion, the courage to drive for real change is going to help enable whoever is in the post of the tech executive to succeed. The flip side, the business savvy CIO, we're seeing the most important characteristics of the tech exec of the future, the ability to influence and drive organizational change. That could be enough to start driving up the ranks to get support and sponsorship.

I just know a lot of my friends, colleagues, and clients that are business savvy CIOs that have been given the reigns to do what they think is the right thing for the organization to do, which is, really drive this tech base transformation. It's hard without that executive mandate and sponsorship to make it real.

Business Transformation and the CIO Role

Michael Krigsman: What does all of this mean for CIOs today?

Bill Briggs: We do a biannual what we used to call the CIO survey and now we're calling it the global tech exec survey. We have these three archetypes that have been in place now throughout that research and they're derived. We don't ask individual executives to self-describe themselves. It's basically a combination of their priorities and what they're being incented and measured behind and the like.

We found a few years ago that the trusted operator archetype, which is the historical, the CIO, responsibly managing capital, reliability, is the prime, keep lights on, keeps the train running. That has to happen, but it's becoming more of an output of the function and, frankly, the platforms, the architecture, the tooling, and the automation is not the reason for existence anymore.

The last time we did this survey, we found a significant shift into this second archetype, which is the change instigator, which is more than the seat at the table CIO cliché. It was more of the one that's actively helping shape agenda.

We have 1,300 execs. Most of them are tech execs. We also ask CEOs and some CFOs, CMOs, and CXOs.

The dominant voice now is saying, "We need someone to stand up and help actually instigate this change." The predominant desire from especially the CEOs and the chairmen and chairwomen we talk to say, "We want it to be the CIO." It doesn't mean they're the one that all the operations and everything reports into them, but you're seeing this convergence of IT, OT, and product technology. You're seeing this desire to say, "We need to do more to take advantage of this incredible amount of disruption happening around us," and the CIO having the chance to kind of fill that void.

The flipside, we're seeing so many new titles being created because they're not getting that out of their tech executive today, be it the digital officer, the innovation officer, growth officer. I saw one that was the chief troublemaker officer, which was meant to be the chief disruption officer, I guess. Fine, but I think that has to come together and say there's someone ideally reporting into the CEO who owns the truth north of, you know, how do we imagine a tomorrow that's likely going to be largely technology-based?

Digital Transformation, Culture Change, and CIO Innovation

Michael Krigsman: How is it possible for any one person to possess the deep kind of business innovation and cultural change skills you're describing and be the tech expert, especially across the range of different technologies, even such as you described in your report?

Bill Briggs: This idea that the curiosity and the ability to influence not just the change around them but the team that they're building with them is huge and increasing. Another finding in the report, the Tech Trends report and the Tech Exec report, is the increasing importance of ecosystems to create coverage across that map because you can't roll it all out yourself and do it all alone.

The beauty is, the operational challenges that we're seeing the role shift away from, the realities are still there. There's still the underlying operational discipline that has to be in place. The promise, and a bit of what the architecture chapter this year's trends report talks about is, we want to move it from the heroics of a lot of individuals and the mindshare of the technology executive, the technology leader, into it’s the fabric of the autonomics we put in place to manage the pipeline and lifecycle of the tech deployment. Shifting it from what someone is doing to, it's a part of how people work and they inherit the tools, the patterns, the policies, the templates, the controls.

This isn't saying that we're removing people. We're saying we're allowing the emphasis to shift up stack, technically and metaphorically.

You hit on the challenge of, if I've grown up and all I've been incented to do is keep my cost structure down, keep my traditional operationally running SLAs in the green, it's hard to see a different path. Now, the flip side, we've seen that it's not like individual CIOs can't make the journey if they're empowered to do it and they have the passion and the will. But I'm not trying to trivialize it. We're in a really interesting transitionary period now.

Michael Krigsman: I wonder how many CIOs, just how many people out there in the workforce, are able to adopt these two very different kinds of positions.

Bill Briggs: What I find more of is less the, "Wow. What we're describing here seems unattainable," and it feels more of, there are a lot of tech executives that want to rise to this challenge and they don't have that sponsorship. There's a handful of the organizations that have the CEO level mandate of, "We're going to change and point to the moonshot and away we go."

The more common I find is, there is a desire to do something different but we're still operating incrementally from how we've always thought about and we'll talk to the CFO relationship, the budgeting cycle, the expected return on the investment, the continuous squeeze on overall tech spend in the field that, as long as it's going down, we're doing something right. Right?

Our clients are larger organizations, private and public sector. The easier path is to find a willing coconspirator in one of the businesses, one of the functions, and one of the geographies that's willing to take on the fully realized form of what this would look like and prove that it can work.

Then if you don't have the luxury of that executive-level mandate coming down from high, you actually inspire because others look and say, "I want some of that." How the heck did we create that new experience through product, new enterprise process, whatever it is?

It's so different than what we had before. It was delivered in such a different way. It's delivering much more impact and value. Employ your customer-facing. My gosh. Then that starts to become self-fulfilling.

Michael Krigsman: Is the optimal, ideal CIO a technologist or a businessperson, or should we just not be making that distinction?

Bill Briggs: I think, in a few years, the question of, are you a technology or businessperson, is going to be irrelevant – full stop. We're already seeing teams organized around product or capability and they're being asked to do what traditionally would have been a business analyst, a QA, or developer engineer type roles and they're kind of doing pieces of all.

Over time, hopefully, that question becomes – you know, but I think someone with a deep technology background and that passion to eat tech crunch for breakfast to be relevant to stay with some healthy cynicism, by the way. The vice-chair of J&J was one of the other voices in that opening chapter of Tech Trends. He, not a technologist himself, owned all the technology investment and saying, "I want folks to be excited about how do we harness tech but, also, we need to maintain a healthy cynicism so that we're not just chasing waterfalls and empty promises."

The deep technologist that can stay relevant but also can quickly translate it into the so-what and look beyond what we do today into what we could do tomorrow, that's the sweet spot. I think that's what business becomes.

CFO and the IT Operating Model

Michael Krigsman: Why is the CFO role so important when we're talking about technology?

Bill Briggs: Every year, we seem to expand the definition with the future of the tech, what a delivery model looks like. Agile was the business and tech coming together. Then we talked about dev ops, so the run and build organizations coming together. Then security became the bottleneck, so we said dev sec ops and how does that come together.

The chapter is looking at finance as a function is one of the things that's becoming an inhibitor in being able to drive a broader innovation agenda. Why is that? Well, we're used to highly dogmatic, annual budgeting cycles. We're used to some pretty fierce IRR, ROI returns that we expect on capital deployment and we don't have a very nuanced horizon lens in making bets that might be more speculative but could have a bigger payoff but there's less certainty in handling that portfolio.

Within technology, we did a survey and an astoundingly small percentage of tech leaders said that there's a formal business case as they drive tech investment and an astoundingly less number that actually went back and had the rigor to report out on the performance of the investment after the fact. It has been a bit flippant in how much we treat IT as a business and the investments we're making as business investments.

The idea that, hey, the CFO is the one that's managing capital deployment, we need to shift the mindset and say, "Listen. Capital is a constrained resource and we think we can maximize the return on that capital by having more investment in technology but allowing us to have a mechanism for portfolio investment into horizon futures and to allow us to have more of the budget defined by these product teams that are really completely tied into market demand and not having it be fixed to an annual project cycle that I couldn't predict where it would go in nine months and I have 100 meetings to get approval to go after something where the market has already moved."

It's this idea of, how do we get more agility in the way we fund the tech investments of the future. A different mindset to the potential returns over horizons. Then there's a specific piece, which might seem hyper-tactical, but how do we access different funding models? Very upfront for CFOs.

The hyper-scalers in cloud will help subsidize some of the migration moves today. You can do consortia models to have co-investment across potential competitors in areas that could be really creative for you. You have co-investment models for folks like Deloitte where we'll actually help develop IP and bring it to market together.

All of those kind of come together on the CFO/CIO relationship. It wasn't always contentious, but they didn't look at each other as, how do we together transform the enterprise. This wasn't typically the dynamic of the relationship. It increasingly needs to be that now.

Managing the CIO / CFO Relationship

Michael Krigsman: One both sides, it sounds like there's significant skillset change, evolvement, as well as culture change. Maybe can you summarize for the CFO and for the CIO, what are the skill sets that need to evolve?

Bill Briggs: For the CFO, this tech fluency discussion we've been talking about, they need to be a champion of this broader tech-enabled transformation, mission, and story. Ultimately, they're the ones that sign off on acquisitions, capital deployment, and the like. That is important across the C-suite. It's especially important for the CFO.

Given not a lot of CFOs have a tech background, what a great chance for a CIO to come at that relationship and say, "Hey, I want to help." "Up your game," that's not the tone, but help us so we're confident and we're making the right investments across. I think that's a huge piece of it.

Then some of the things in the finance function, like, how we do actually implement the controls that we need to allow capital to be more agilely deployed but without letting the rigor that needs to be there go aside? We break it down into this maybe more handwaving, strategic area and then some very tactics within finance, within IT. Here are changes that we're seeing leaders of organizations make that add up to this broad opportunity.

Michael Krigsman: How do CIOs go about learning the ins and outs? You talked about the importance of funding models.

Bill Briggs: Yeah.

Michael Krigsman: For many CIOs who grew up in technology and who now, by the way, you're asking to shift to be culture change drivers.

Bill Briggs: Do you have dedicated finance controllers and folks doing project management and procurement? Probably yeah if you're a CIO. How do you measure those individuals? Typically, it's very siloed within their individual function capability.

Some of the most important resources you'll have on the future technology team will be folks that today we'd call them relationship manager, vendor manager, contract manager, or procurement lead. But the mindset becomes, how do we partner differently? How do we co-invest differently? That's easy, typically one that CIOs control, and it just shifts the sourcing discussion from, "I'm going to squeeze the cost outlays as tightly as I can," to, "I want to maximize the return," and not in a hypothetical way. The actual capital return we're going to get from this investment the best we can.

By the way, those individuals, they're acting like they do today because that's exactly what they're being asked to do and they're incented to do. A lot of them would love to have a more strategic role. I think those things add up to some real change and maybe a little bit more digestible than suddenly you're going to wake up tomorrow and be a finance expert on top of a change instigator and everything else we've been saying. [Laughter]

Michael Krigsman: Thus the crucial importance of developing a partnership relationship with the CFO.

Bill Briggs: Yeah, for sure. This ecosystem model, you think macro forces of technology change is really important, but this blurring of the boundaries that have existed inside and outside organizations I think is almost as important. We talked before about the blurring line between the business and the technology work. I think I said in passing, a lot of more industrial products, folks that have a strong distribution and logistics component, they have OT separate than IT separate than product technology, especially with the digital ambitions they have. Those boundaries are dangerous. They're actually holding back the potential collaboration.

Then in this idea of, what do we own? Historically, it was competitive advantage was by us stockpiling IP and stockpiling scale. This shift to this idea of the edge matters, the flows matter, and how do we maximize potential outside of our corporate boundaries, outside of our four walls? That all, that's the future. When you say recipe for success, that's it.

Examining the Cloud Operating Model for Finance and IT

Michael Krigsman: We have another very good question from Andy Golden on Twitter. He makes the point that the dynamic of the P&L versus the balance sheet is a big discussion across on-prem versus SaaS "investments" and another point of contention between the CIO and the CFO.

Bill Briggs: Yeah, and you see a model of some organizations having more of the technology spend and even the way it's actually structured closer to the P&Ls where you have capacity-based funding models that are basically agreeing on key performance indicators that they are tied directly to their business, and so the investment justifications exactly measured in P&L concerns. Those same organizations say, "And there are some things that will be on the cost center balance sheet that we use subsidy models and the fact that we're not going to actually allocate costs or we're going to give some funding kicker behind investments you take to help us with the broader center-based priorities." That actually is a powerful mechanism to get a lot of things done, too. It's spot on and it could be a conflict or it could be a vehicle for driving some of this change.

Michael Krigsman: Obviously, one of the things implied by what you're saying is that, to the extent that the CIO becomes familiar and understands thoroughly these various types of financial models, relationships, and the nature and how they bind the ecosystem together and the CFO obviously can be a partner in that. But the more sophisticated the CIO is, obviously the better.

Bill Briggs: Yeah, and you see the value they can create inside of the boardroom, inside of that executive team. It goes up at a time when it's desperately needed.

Advice for Chief Information Officers in 2020

Michael Krigsman: Bill, what advice do you have for CIOs to remain relevant and successful today?

Bill Briggs: IT is the closing chapter of Tech Trends, which by the way the report is out, available to download. There's an app version. That's one to go and dig into. It's a media report, like you said.

The last chapter talks about this idea of horizon next. I almost used shorthand. How do you industrial your innovation process? How intentional are you on sensing, sense-making, and driving these incubation type activities but with an eye to scale, not an eye to perpetual pilots and concepts being proven that don't add up to anything. I think there's one bit of that and almost every organization I've seen is partnering to do that with an ecosystem, not doing it themselves completely because it's just impossible.

With that, there's this CIO, the tech exec of the future can be the one that is projecting the confidence that even though there's so much happening, we can get our arms around it and translate the "whats"—there are so many "whats"—into the "whats" that matter. The filtering mechanism of, don't let the noise and the cacophony overwhelm. But then be the one that's the translation engine from the what to the so-what in the org and be the one that's the voice.

That so-what is in the positive sense and it's the so-what on the, hey, this topic, for us, it doesn't make sense to invest or it's not ready yet. That health skepticism so it's not just wild-eyed hyperbole and evangelism. Be that leader that the organization looks at and helps spark the movement of this tech fluency, tech-savviness across the broader business because the more partners in crime, partners in advocacy, partners in believing in what tech means to the business, the business model, the future industry, the better chance you have to actually execute real change.

Ever tech exec I know, what makes them most excited is taking all of this from hyperbole and rhetoric and actually hitting go and making an impact. The time is right and it's ours. [Laughter]

Michael Krigsman: All right. That was very inspiring. Bill, thank you very, very much for being here with us today and sharing your great expertise.

Bill Briggs: It's a pleasure. Always happy to be here.

Michael Krigsman: Everybody, we've been speaking with Bill Briggs. He is the global chief technology officer of Deloitte. Next week, we're speaking with the chief marketing officer of AT&T Business.

Thanks so much for watching. Before you go, please subscribe on YouTube and hit the subscribe button at the top of our website to subscribe to our newsletter. Thanks so much, everybody, and hope you have a great day. Bye-bye.​

Published Date: Mar 06, 2020

Author: Michael Krigsman

Episode ID: 646