3 Scale Accelerators Deliver Digital Transformation

Digital dexterity, network effect technology and industrialized digital platforms are keys to success.

LiveSYM_bugTo restore sight in the visually impaired, bionic company Pixium deployed artificial intelligence (AI) sensors that enable visual signals to be optimized for each patient. Over time, the AI system and the patient worked together to create more accurate vision for the patient. Network effect technologies such as AI will accelerate the pace at which companies can scale their digital business, said Leigh McMullen, research vice president, at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2017 in Orlando, Florida.

McMullen and fellow analyst, Tina Nunno, vice president and research Fellow, said three scale accelerators are key to speeding through the trough of disillusionment outlined in the opening keynote to create value at scale: Digital dexterity, network effect technologies and industrialized digital platforms.

Digital dexterity

Digital dexterity is a new set of attributes and skills that allow CIOs and their teams to operate successfully in a continuously changing digital world. Digital business execution requires skills such as more frequent complex decision making, continuous problem solving and rapid pattern recognition. Since success ultimately hinges on creating high performance digital workplaces, organizations must change internally and exhibit digital dexterity to change and succeed externally.

Tina Nunno, vice president and research Fellow, said three scale accelerators are key to speeding through the trough of disillusionment outlined in the opening keynote at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo
Tina Nunno, vice president and research Fellow, said three scale accelerators are key to speeding through the trough of disillusionment at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo

Network effect technologies

Network effect technologies create virtuous patterns of growth where waves of disruption exponentially build upon each other. “Network effect technologies take input and scale it to bring out meaning and possibility,” said McMullen.

Nunno and McMullen advised CIOs to focus on three network effect technologies in 2018. The more these technologies are used and interconnected the more value that can be created.

Internet of things (IoT)

IoT scales the physical world and makes it smarter. “IoT reaches the unreachable and animates the inanimate,” said Nunno. Leading oil and gas companies use IoT data,

API’s and AI within new digital platforms to mathematically model human expertise and diverse operational data. In the past, field work was risky because knowledge was isolated to a small group of workers which made it difficult for others to respond quickly, correctly and safely. Now teams use machine learning models and output to enable greater worksite safety and efficiency.


APIs scale relationships and create exponential growth in new applications. APIs enable IT leaders to easily connect partners, employees and even competitors into a vibrant network that unlocks value for everyone. Value emerges slowly, then accelerates quickly as more participants are added to the ecosystem and new APIs are discovered and used.

McMullen noted that to realize this value, “You may have some of the right people already, they’re just stuck doing the wrong things.” CIOs should take note of people who know systems of record inside and out and put them in roles to help tackle new integration challenges.


AI systems can scale people to find the best results and pass those results into the larger ecosystem. AI is made up of many technologies that can improve the accuracy of human decisions with the help of colossal amounts of data. Deep learning, one of today’s most promising AI technologies, can scale to meet many data-intensive business needs in all industries. In healthcare, deep learning capabilities support physicians with diagnostic options. As doctors respond to these options, the system learns and improves.

Prioritize investments in AI, beginning at the top. Hire an AI-capable leader to reach  digital scale so that these leaders can develop their teams and organizations.

Industrialized digital platforms

The digital platform is a key building block for digital business because it unleashes the digital dexterity of your workforce and unlocks the potential of network effect technologies.

But digital platforms need to be industrialized.

An industrialized digital platform is ready to expand into new marketplaces and new ecosystems but requires CIOs to have ambition – deciding what type of organization they want to create, legacy – that body of work CIOs would be proud to leave behind, and reach  – the ability to extend to suppliers, partners and beyond.

Nunno and McMullen challenged IT leaders to determine which new products they could build to take full advantage of the opportunities enabled by digital business at scale.

Action Plan for CIOs

For the IT partner who is expected to operate in a more transactional way, use the

digital platform to create new energy for internal collaboration.

For the digital builder who needs to design and enable new products and services, use the digital platform to speed time to market for digital products.

For digital pioneers who act as an entrepreneur and leverage technologies to build new capabilities, use the digital platform to create a new digital marketplace.

Get Smarter

Digital Disruption ebook
Disruption is everywhere. Learn how CIOs can stay ahead of challenges and use disruption as a tool for competitive advantage in the complimentary Digital Disruption ebook.

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2017
Learn more about CIO leadership and how to drive digital innovation to the core of your business at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2017. Follow news and updates from the events on Twitter using #GartnerSYM.

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