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Gartner Symposium: Welcome to the age of force multipliers

Tech has always been asked to do more with less. Gartner says that if applied correctly, smart IT decisions offer multiple benefits simultaneously

The idea of IT as a force multiplier is a concept that analyst Gartner believes CIOs should put into practice to help their organisations deliver digital initiatives to navigate the economic downturn. A force multiplier is the term Gartner has applied to the situation where the deployment of new technology delivers a multitude of distinct business benefits. 

During the keynote presentation of the first post-pandemic Barcelona Gartner Symposium, Mary Mesaglio, managing vice-president at Gartner, discussed how CIOs could use a force multiplier to improve employee experience across the organisation. She said: “When work is unnecessarily hard, employees’ performance goes down. Technology is a much bigger part of the value proposition. Use IT as a force multiplier to revolutionise work.”

According to Mesaglio, there are tremendous opportunities for CIOs to make a difference to improve how people work. “Friction is when work is unnecessarily hard,” she said.

According to Gartner, one area that employees rate is the quality of technology they need to use for their job. A new Gartner survey found that only 31% of employees said they have the technology they need.

Streamlining the job application process and making enterprise systems less clunky are among the opportunities for CIOs to improve technology to deliver better employee experiences.

Mesaglio said the pandemic showed how IT teams delivered digital technology to keep the world running and CIOs are set to play a vital role in supporting their organisations during the current challenging economic climate.

In fact, recent data from Gartner shows that in business, digital acceleration is a priority for the entire executive team, which has meant CIOs increasingly taking on senior roles outside of IT.

During the keynote, Daniel Sánchez-Reina, VP analyst at Gartner, discussed the idea of sustainable growth supported by IT. He said: “CEOs have been deprioritising growth because they don’t have enough talent or raw materials.”

But digital leadership offers a way for organisations to grow in a sustainable way, he said, adding: “Responsible investment matters for the people that are important to your enterprise. Employees get the opportunity to make a difference. Customers get solutions that align with their values. And investors get a more attractive investment.”

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Sánchez-Reina grave three examples of how technology could drive sustainable growth in a way that delivers a force multiplier.

The first is what Gartner calls intelligent connected infrastructure (ICI). He said this works a bit like an air traffic control system, but is used to provide monitoring and control in ports and on bridges, roads and airports. ICI combines mesh fabric, artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), cloud, analytics and edge computing to share data.

According to Sánchez-Reina, ICI gives such infrastructure a voice. He said that investing in ICI is a force multiplier because it can increase growth for cities and businesses and improve lives for citizens.

The second opportunity is autonomous sourcing, where AI, machine learning (ML) and natural language processing are used to give organisations access to a much wider range of suppliers. Sánchez-Reina said autonomous sourcing is a force multiplier that increases efficiency and improves supplier sustainability at the same time.

The third opportunity is how IT can be used to enable organisations to reduce their energy. Sánchez-Reina urged CIOs to use cloud, data and analytics to understand a baseload of how much energy their organisation has consumed. This is followed up with the implementation of what Gartner calls an energy and optimisation system (EMOS) to reduce energy usage by enabling decision-makers to make proactive, data-led decisions in near-real time.

According to Sánchez-Reina, an EMOS can reduce energy usage substantially. This can be combined with a microgrid, which uses AI and ML to reduce energy costs and offers a revenue stream for the organisation, allowing it to sell energy back into the grid.

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