The world’s most successful companies don’t simply respond to industry trends and market shifts. They anticipate them and even create them.

Think of companies that have chartered the course into new industries and business models. Henry Ford recognized that a practical and affordable automobile would appeal to the masses, which helped spur his idea for creating the modern assembly line to mass-produce cars.

Apple is another great example. Consumers didn’t realize they wanted an iPod until Apple created the innovative device that sent mobile and personalized music into the future. Steve Jobs recognized an opportunity and took a bold yet calculated risk.

The CIO can help the organization to anticipate the future of business, including the types of products and services consumers will want and need in the future. The use and widespread deployment of analytics throughout the enterprise can enable business leaders and front-line managers to read the tea leaves and act on customer and market opportunities ahead of the industry.

For instance, bank officials can use analytics to help determine the investment needs and products sought by Millenials as their earnings potential increases. Business leaders for a consumer packaged goods (CPG) company can use analytics to identify opportunities for developing and marketing new products aimed at consumers in emerging economies that will increasingly be seeking convenience as their standard of living increases.

Building deeper engagement with customers through the use of Voice of the Customer tools and other types of feedback mechanisms can also help businesses identify consumer interests and then take a proactive approach to meeting those desires.

Anticipating future business opportunities – some of which may fall outside of a company’s core areas of focus -- will require CIOs and other business leaders to think differently. As Rich Adduci, SVP & CIO at Boston Scientific points out in this HMG Strategy video, CIOs have relied on large suppliers to bring innovation to them for the past 20 to 30 years. Going forward, CIOs will need to become more inventive.

“Now as a CIO, if you want to be more innovative, you have to be comfortable taking risk, you have to go fishing for new opportunities and new ideas – because those won’t just come to you through your supplier network,” said Adduci. “You have to develop them and be comfortable reaching out to the venture (capital) community and talking to smaller companies to see where the new opportunities are.”

The CIO can also help foster a culture of continuous innovation and work with senior management to identify opportunities for transforming the business. Because if there’s one thing that IT and business leaders have learned in the age of disruptive innovation, it’s that companies can’t rely on historical success for future growth.