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Gartner: Composability will make business more resilient and agile

CIOs have stepped up to the challenge of supporting their organisations during the global coronavirus crisis. Now they are set to do more – with less

Technology to enable remote working and quick fixes to maintain operations has demonstrated the key role IT professionals have taken to help businesses continue to run.

Analyst firm Gartner believes CIOs should now maintain the momentum to innovate and drive forward an IT strategy that builds on digital business initiatives, to ensure companies can adapt quickly to unforeseen events.

In the opening keynote of the Gartner Symposium for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Daryl Plummer, a distinguished analyst at Gartner, said: “Your role as CIO as a critical business leader is at the heart of inspiration for the right kind of change in the business context. You can help your businesses turn the turmoil to their advantage. Technology can’t solve all of our problems, but we can’t solve our problems without technology.”

The 2021 Gartner board of directors survey found that 69% of corporate directors want to accelerate enterprise digital strategies and implementations to help deal with the ongoing disruption. For some businesses this has meant their digital strategies have become real for the first time. Other businesses have been forced to scale up digital investments rapidly. 

The key message in Plummer’s opening keynote, is that businesses need to become far more agile, to cope with unforeseen events and new opportunities.

To achieve this, Gartner urged CIOs to expand their IT strategy beyond digitisation, to focus on technology and IT-enabled processes that are composable and can be reconfigured quickly.

“We are in a moment of need. Be inspired to seize that moment and to do it through composable business,” said Plummer.

Three steps to composability

  1. Composable Thinking: Design principles that guide an organisation’s approach to conceptualising what to compose, and when.
  2. Composable Business Architecture: Structural capabilities, giving an organisation the mechanisms to use in architecting its business.
  3. Composable Technologies: Product design goals driving the features of technology that support the notions of composability.

Source: Gartner

According to Plummer, composable business extends the concept of digital business. He claimed composability enables IT leaders to deliver the resilience and agility that businesses require to remain operational during the coronavirus crisis.

“Composable business is a natural acceleration of the digital business that organisations live every day,” said Plummer. “It allows organisations to finally deliver the resilience and agility that these interesting times demand.”

Post coronavirus IT strategies

Describing how Gartner sees the role of the CIO and IT function changing as a result of coronavirus, distinguished analyst Don Scheibenreif said: “The world demands something different from us: composing, flexible, fluid, continuous and even improvisation is how we will move forward.”

The analyst firm has defined three steps organisations need to take to become compostable. It starts with composable thinking, which Scheibenreif said helps companies to remain creative. The next part is a composable business architecture. The third area is composable technologies.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, most CIOs leveraged their organisations existing digital investments, and some CIOs accelerated their digital strategies by investing in some of the three composable building blocks,” said Tina Nunno, distinguished research vice-president and Gartner Fellow.

According to Gartner, the building blocks of composability can be used to pivot quickly to a new opportunity, industry, customer base or revenue stream. “Throughout 2020, CIOs and IT leaders maintained their composure and delivered tremendous value,” said Nunno. “The next step is to create a more composable business using the three building blocks. With composability, organisations can achieve digital acceleration, greater resiliency and the ability to innovate through disruption.”

Shifts in IT investment

Gartner’s data shows that almost one billion people worked from home at some point in 2020. This has led to demand for IT products and services to support remote workers. According to Gartner, desktop-as-a-service revenue has grown by 99%, while robotic process automation, infrastructure as a service and cloud-based unified communications have all grown by 20%.

However, technologies related to on-premise IT have plummeted by over 20%. “With little or no notice you found new ways to keep millions of employees working. She said that it took a pandemic for people to use the collaboration and video conferencing tools IT departments had deployed. Gartner has forecast that by 2024, 30% of employees worldwide will be working remotely.

“Perhaps our enterprises are ready for more digital change,” said Nunno. As an example, she said that 69% of corporate directors want to accelerate their digital business strategy.

However, Nunno warned that most CIOs will be delivering their IT strategy with less budget. In fact, Gartner has estimated that by the end of 2020 enterprise IT spending is set to decline by 6%

The role of tech in global disruption

What is clear from the first day of this year’s annual Gartner event is that the pandemic is leading to global disruption in IT strategies. For instance, given the rapid shift in how people have adapted their behaviour to make use of online-only access during the coronavirus pandemic, Gartner predicted that more and more business transactions will take place solely online.

Scheibenreif said: “Covid-19 sweeped away long-standing barriers to digital disruption. People are buying food, cars, homes, heavy equipment and even seeing their doctors through digital channels only.”

Read more about post-pandemic IT

Gartner predicted that by 2025, 40% of physical experience-based businesses will improve financial results and outperform competitors by extending into paid virtual experiences.

The fact that during 2020 there has been unprecedented changes in the way people live and work suggests that change is the new norm. Scheibenreif said businesses have to be ready for anything.

“We are in the middle of an unprecedented combination of a global pandemic, social unrest, climate change and socially distant but passionate people,” he said.

These will influence the value people put on the organisations they interact with in a way business has not experienced before. Gartner describes this as the voice of society, and it is something that will need to be measured, alongside other key performance indicators such as customer sentiment and shareholder value.

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