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Plan for the Digital Future

CIOs need to embrace disruptive technologies or fall behind their more innovative competitors.

Digital disruption is happening all around us. Business leaders will face unprecedented challenges and opportunities in assisting their organizations in navigating disruption. Finding the right opportunities requires skills, tools and looking through the right lenses.

We asked Jamie Popkin, vice president and Gartner Fellow and leader of the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016 track “Plan for the Digital Future”, how CIOs and business leaders need to prepare for this digital journey.

Q: What should business leaders focus on to lead in the digital future?

A: A recent Gartner survey shows that that half of CEOs and senior business executives expect their industries to be substantially, or unrecognizably, transformed by digital. A future-focused digital strategy is the key to managing this disruption and exploiting opportunity. IT leaders will need to be prepared for what’s on the horizon by adapting their thinking, methods and technologies to support the fluidic change of the digital future.

Leaders should set a clear and inspiring goal for their digital endeavors and be able to articulate in 12 words or less.

Leadership in this new market reality will demand high levels of digital sharpness. The new leadership team for digital technology will include most, if not all, of the executives in the enterprise. In digital business, virtually everyone is a technology leader, every budget is an IT budget, and every manager is responsible for developing technology skills. Leadership collaboration is essential; sharing the leader role as issues and circumstances change is a best practice.

Q: “Born digital” companies are using a number of beliefs and techniques to drive their fast growth and highly innovative businesses. What are some of the key techniques that traditional firms in older industries should copy?

A: Born digital companies are organizations founded after 1995 that exploit internet era information and digital technologies as a core competency. These companies, such as Amazon, Google and Tesla, focus on techniques and beliefs that resonate in the digital reality. It’s about leading and thinking a bit differently.

For traditional companies to compete, they should focus on copying some of their strategies. For example, mission matters. Missions attract and motivate talent to achieve. Leaders should set a clear and inspiring goal for their digital endeavors and be able to articulate in 12 words or less. Another competency to focus on is becoming a user-centric organization. Born digital companies have a singular focus on the end user and build only what the user values. This speeds development and boosts payback.

Q: Smart machines, artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and other disruptive drivers are transforming the business landscape. How should CIOs prepare to exploit these technologies?

A: The dramatic rise of smart machines and autonomous devices is driving radical shifts in business practices and individual behaviors. Enterprises and individuals face the urgent need to define and develop harmonious relationships between people and machines.

Those changes are coming fast, and they present dramatic challenges to enterprises and IT organizations that need to manage and track Internet of Things (IoT) activities.

To fully exploit such technologies, business and IT will need not only new skill sets, but also a new mindset. Organizations must be willing to fail, and have the wherewithal in terms of both money and staffing to test and show how these disruptive technologies can create business value.

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Gartner Event
Additional analysis on the digital future will be presented during the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016, the world’s most important gathering of CIOs and other senior IT executives. IT executives rely on these events to gain insight into how their organizations can use IT to overcome business challenges and improve operational efficiency. Follow news and updates from the events on Twitter using #GartnerSYM.

Upcoming dates and locations for Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016 include:
September 26-28, Cape Town, South Africa,
October 5-7, Tokyo, Japan
October 16-20, Orlando, Florida
October 24-27, Sao Paulo, Brazil
October 24-27, Gold Coast, Australia
November 6-10, Barcelona, Spain
November 15-18, Goa, India

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