January 11, 2016
Each new year brings new challenges for businesses, and that is particularly true of IT platforms and infrastructure. Technology advances rapidly, and in order for your business to keep up, it is important to devote resources to building and/or upgrading key platforms and systems. A recent study from Gartner offers valuable insight for CIOs with 2016 right around the corner.
About the Study
Gartner's CIO Agenda Report combines case studies, survey findings and expert insight to provide CIOs with a roadmap for future changes in IT. The current survey from Gartner offers input from 2,944 CIOs representing $11 trillion in revenue and public sector budgets from 84 countries. With such a deep pool of thought, what did the survey find?
Digital Now the Norm
Digitization within enterprises is no longer a fringe concept or cutting edge in nature. In very basic terms, digitization is the process of converting manual or offline processes and applications into a format that is supported by computers, the Internet or a network. Examples include content management systems, eCommerce, employee management and beyond.
The need to digitize older systems and diversify current digital assets is now a core competency that all businesses need to focus on. Over the next five years, digital processes are expected to rise from 42% to 77%.
The report goes on to say, "The deepening of digital means that lines are becoming increasingly blurred, and boundaries semiporous — both inside and outside the enterprise — as multiple networks of stakeholders bring value to each other by exploiting and exploring platform dynamics."
View of Platforms Must Change
To date, most companies have maintained a traditional fixed system and viewpoint in terms of providing goods or services to consumers (i.e. suppliers provide inputs so your employees can create or provide products and services to customers). This system offered clear lines between internal and external contributors. CIOs now need to focus on a platform view of digitization to focus on the value of differing connections.
An article in Forbes weighed in by saying, "The digital era requires flexible systems and structures that can swap resources in and out and change partners based on shifting priorities. Digital visionaries harness platforms to create value through connections and interactions rather than ownership of individual resources."
A platform view provides a larger foundation wherein resources come together quickly (even temporarily) to create value for the end user. With 40% of CIOs identifying as the leaders of digital transformation in their company, it is important to realize that platform thinking can no longer be limited to IT infrastructure.
Platform views should be adopted from top to bottom in the business, largely because digitization has penetrated all levels of business. Sharepoint is a great example of digitizing workflows within organizations to increase efficiencies.
3 Major Challenges
Most CIOs responding to the Gartner survey identified three particular platforms impacted by the deepening of digitization; managing delivery, managing talent and executing effective leadership.
When it comes to managing delivery, companies should focus on building out bimodal platforms for improved digital performance. Gartner states, "Bimodal IT captures the platform characteristic of continuously building and refactoring capabilities for the future." While this might seem overwhelming, it's best to start with the easy things and build toward a more complex bimodal future. For example, crowdsourcing is increasingly popular, and was identified as the most effective independent factor but remains a minimally used resource.
Talent is a driving force in the IT world, but there is an apparent shortage that impacts the digitization of all businesses. CIOs can develop the most ambitious objectives they like, but a lack of talent is the biggest barrier to achieving those goals. Some 22% of CIOs identified skills/resources as the number-one barrier to success. Bridging the talent gap requires better recruitment and more effective rotating of staff from outside your current IT environment.
Executing Effective Leadership
Last but not least, there is the challenge of effectively leading the charge toward greater digitization. CIOs see themselves as wielding more influence and holding greater say in the digitization efforts of their company, but success requires effective leadership alongside that greater power.
The CIO Agenda Report lists these challenges for CIOs: "cutting through organizational policies, processes and politics, as well as the sheer volume and pace of change." There are only so many hours in the day; so, in order to lead effectively, CIOs must delegate and prioritize tasks to ensure that the company meets its goal of increasing enterprise digital savvy.
If CIOs can take advantage of technology by platformizing business processes and applications, the company can achieve a competitive advantage and create value, which positions you, the CIO, as a critical thinker in the company's digital transition. Read the full Gartner study here.
Best of luck as you head into 2016, and our ever-increasing digital business landscape!