Mark Carrel -

Pioneering CIOs must prepare for next wave of digital change

Analyst Gartner told IT leaders at its annual CIO Symposium event in Barcelona that businesses must increase the pace of digital transformation

Digital business is already transforming the way some organisations operate, but only the most pioneering CIOs will be prepared for the continuing wave of disruption and change, according to experts at Gartner.

Speaking at the firm’s annual CIO Symposium event in Barcelona, analysts outlined the best way for CIOs to thrive and survive in an age of almost-constant transformation.

Peter Sondergaard, executive vice-president of research at Gartner, warned CIOs that many executives are struggling to keep up with the pace of change.

“Are you ready for the next plunge into digital business?” he said.

Industry in general is now at the peak of inflated expectations regarding digital transformation, and a trough of disillusionment is coming, he warned.

As many as two-thirds of business leaders believe their firms must pick up the pace of digital transformation in order to compete. Chief executives at these companies are fearful of being left behind and are starting to get frustrated at the lack of progress regarding change.

The good news is that IT leaders still have a great opportunity to engage and create new opportunities, with 77% of executives polled by Gartner believing their key business priorities are dependent on technology.

“[CIOs] play a significant role, but to meet the digital challenge, you must understand what is expected of you and what you aspire to,” said Sondergaard. “If your organisation is not optimised and creating new models to keep customers engaged, then you will be left behind.”

Sondergaard said three key factors, known as scale accelerators, would be crucial to the most successful CIOs going forward. “Focusing on these will allow you to escape the trough of disillusionment and to transform digitally,” he said.

The first scale accelerator is digital dexterity, where organisations must change internally, and encourage creative ways of working and thinking, to succeed externally. 

“As a CIO, you must embrace and lead the digital dexterity challenge,” said Gartner vice-president Hung LeHong.

Tina Nunno, vice-president at Gartner, added that CIOs must focus on technology, engagement and diversity to build a workforce with the required digital capability.

“The pioneering CIOs are already taking these steps and are delivering key business outcomes,” she said.

The second accelerator is a range of network-effect technologies that will help organisations to disrupt and grow. Gartner suggests CIOs should focus on three technologies through 2018: internet of things (IoT), application programming interfaces (APIs) and artificial intelligence (AI).

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LeHong said organisations that connect more of these technologies have more opportunities to succeed. By using these technologies in the network, CIOs can create more data and find new ways to deliver value at scale.

“You will need people who know your systems inside and out,” he said. “Invest in your workforce and inspire them to use their existing skills to make the most of these advanced technologies.”

Finally, Gartner focused on the industrialised digital platform, where the business creates a technology platform to help exploit new opportunities quickly. CIOs should embrace a hybrid integration platform, where internal technologies are brought together with the services being developed by external partners.

LeHong encouraged CIOs to set their digital ambition, saying that while some businesses are transforming, others are being left behind.

“Keep your organisation focused on your ambition,” he said, suggesting CIOs must modernise legacy applications and embrace transformation without creating complexity.

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