Analysts Answer: The No.1 Quality Necessary to Lead Digital Business

Gartner analysts share why digital acuity, creating a culture, and challenging the status quo are the qualities companies need in a CIO.

The Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016 season just kicked off in South Africa and Tokyo. With this year’s theme of Lead 360: Drive Digital to the Core, Smarter With Gartner reached out to several analysts to see what it takes to lead digital business.

What’s the No.1 quality necessary for leading digital business?

Courage. For both CEOs and CIOs digital business will often mean leading a journey into unknown territory using new and unfamiliar tools and methods. Introducing new kinds of products, competencies, business models and technologies will challenge and may expose your personal abilities. It will test or disrupt your business relationships. It is not for the faint of heart.

See Mark Raskino at his Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Sessions:
Gartner Analyst Keynote: Building Platforms for a Digital Society (Tokyo, Japan; Barcelona, Spain)
The CEO Perspective 2016: How CIOs Should Respond (Orlando, Florida; Barcelona, Spain; Tokyo, Japan)
Ten Management Techniques and Beliefs to Copy From Born Digital Companies (Orlando, Florida; Barcelona, Spain; Tokyo, Japan)

MeehanEvery CEO and CIO I speak with knows that creating the right culture is the key to being a great digital leader. What’s required is a culture that celebrates innovation…and implied in innovation is taking risks. Most companies have little tolerance for failure, yet taking risks means that sometimes you’ll fail.

I’m not saying that leaders should accept failure with the ERP system or the email system; what I’m suggesting is that great leaders in the digital business space create the right and relevant culture in appropriate places that permit, or even celebrate, failure.

Typically, if you’re innovating in a channel scenario with sensors or location awareness, you’re not going to get it right the first time…and that should be OK. Eventually you iterate what’s being tried until you do get it right. Permitting that takes solid leadership.

See Patrick Meehan at his Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Session:
The State of the CIO Role 2016 (Orlando, Florida)

PrenticeSuccess in Digital Business Transformation comes from the top. CEO’s need to engage, commit resources and drive change. This is no time to sit on the sidelines and hope for the best!

See Stephen Prentice at his Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Sessions:
Bytes, Bots, Brains and Business — The Digital Disruptors (Orlando, Florida; Gold Coast, Australia; Barcelona, Spain)
Competing in a Platform World (Orlando, Florida; Gold Coast; Australia)

Future leadership success will demand high digital acuity — a sharpness of thought, vision and understanding in relation to digital technologies as a source of competitive advantage. Digital acuity will complement core expectations such as financial acumen, strategy mastery and leadership excellence in the M.B.A. curriculum of the future.

See Graham Waller at his Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Sessions:
CIOs Must Reframe Leadership Mindsets to Match Digital-Era Reality (Orlando, Florida; Barcelona, Spain)
Remaster Your Leadership Using Six Personas Fit for Digital Business Purpose (Orlando, Florida)
Take Digital to the Core — Harness Three Disruptive Forces to Win in Digital Business (Barcelona, Spain)

Digital business leaders must be willing to challenge the status quo about everything — about themselves and their own behavior patterns; about the value of their own role and organization/team; about the health (or lack thereof) of the current business; about their industry rules or regulations; about the position of their company relative to others in their market, etc. Digital business changes everything, and only those willing to question everything will see the possibilities.

See Janelle Hill at her Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Sessions:
Great Values and Great Tactics Will Beat Strategy (Orlando, Florida)
Build a Red Team to Create Your Blue Water Strategy (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Digital Business Transformation: Keys to Success (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

A great digital leader is, above all, able to clearly envision the unique customer value proposition of born digital products or services, identify the enabling technologies and business capabilities required to develop them, and rally the very best resources, both internal and external to the organization, around a passionate and fearless journey for making this vision come to life.
While it may be possible to delegate some of these responsibilities to members of a trusted and carefully selected leadership team, the one task that remains broadly with the digital leader is to shape and nurture a digital business vision and to communicate it, compellingly and relentlessly, to all enterprise stakeholders.

See Ansgar Schulte at his Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Session:
The Digital Economy Requires Venture CIOs (Orlando, Florida; Sau Paulo, Brazil)

The one quality that is consistent with successful digital business leaders is a willingness to be bold. Digital leaders must be willing to take risks with new approaches, new capabilities, new technologies, and most importantly, the courage to drive and lead a more creative and more conspicuous digital team than they ever have before.

See Ed Gabrys at his Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Sessions:
Gartner Analyst Keynote: Building Platforms for a Digital Society (Goa, India)
The Art of Persuaion (Barcelona, Spain)
Turn Your Strategy into an Action Plan (Goa, India)

Get Smarter

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo
Learn more about CIO leadership and how to drive digital innovation to the core of your business at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016, October 24-27, Gold Coast, Australia, the world’s most important gathering of CIOs and other senior IT executives. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter using #GartnerSYM.

Upcoming dates and locations for Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016 include:
October 16-20, Orlando, Florida
October 24-27, Sao Paulo, Brazil
November 6-10, Barcelona, Spain
November 15-18, Goa, India


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