ORLANDO, Fla. — Last year Gartner told CIOs and IT executives to embrace "what's next," a formula for an ever-changing digital economy. This year, the research firm is proposing a technology equilibrium, or "techquilibrium," to determine how digital an enterprise should be in order to position itself as a strong competitor.
Techquilibrium will guide CIOs through three forces of "turns," including the ones "you might not have even seen," said Mike Harris, executive vice president and global head of research at Gartner, speaking Monday at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in Orlando, Florida.
The three forces of change:
Geopolitics: With more regulation, geopolitical changes influence everything between cloud strategy and data, particularly with multinational enterprises.
Economics: CFOs say the U.S. is heading toward a recession, but in 2008, the companies that invested in innovation not only survived, they thrived. "They braked and accelerated," said Valentin Sribar, SVP at Gartner, said while speaking at the conference.
Emergence of digital giants: Most enterprises of the future are not going to be one or the other, digital or traditional. Instead, they will be a healthy hybrid, showcased by the inter-industry cross breeding of companies like Amazon and Google. The distinction of a "tech company" will eventually disappear.
"These turns challenge your stability," said Sribar, but companies should only be "as digital as customers, society and the market can absorb."
On average, it will take businesses seven years to reach their level of "techquilibrium." Only 20% of products, services and revenue are digital and about 35% of workplace and supply chain processes are the same.
"We feel your pain," said Sribar. '"And' dilemmas" are a burden CIOs have to bear while typically being treated as an overhead and expense. Achieving "techquilibrium" will help move IT away from that label.
The paradoxical "ands":
Playing offense and defense
Cutting costs and investing in growth
Maintaining stability and provoking change
Using user data and protecting user privacy
Going on the offensive
About two-thirds of boards say digital giants will be disruptors and pose a threat to businesses. As a result, "many of them are feeling extremely defensive right now, so they're attempting to play offense," said Tina Nunno, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, while speaking at the event.
Neither industry incumbents nor digital giants have an advantage from digital technology. The question becomes, who will lead the offensive initiatives? Will the board see the CIO as the one to lead the offensive charge?
Less than one-fifth of boards, 18%, view the CIO as a trusted ally. Nearly one-third of boards, 31%, say they don't consult with their CIO. More than 40% of boards say they only interact with CIOs when something goes wrong.
The varying degrees of board-CIO relationships is an opportunity to pivot away from "your name is what, again?" said Nunno. "You don't have to be personally offensive or particularly unpleasant, but you do have to be able to pivot ... no one scores or wins by just playing defense."
The board only cares about revenue, cost and risk — any other business value metric CIOs come across is a subset. If CIOs use these three terms, "it's very hard to be wrong," said Nunno.
The offensive/defensive convergence is one of the many opposing business transactions CIOs have to navigate in a digital society.
Preparing for the 'everything customer'
Customers are an "and" dilemma. They want to be connected and left alone simultaneously, they want to be treated like everyone else and given a personalized experience.
Simply put, "they want everything," said Don Scheibenreif, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, while speaking at the event. Companies have to connect with the "everything customer by using technology for scale and inclusion.
Consider the connectivity gap in automated voicemails, usually opening with instructions to "listen to all 13 options…" or "to speak with a representative."
The alternative is the multiexperience, achieved by a mix of touch, gesture, voice, eye-tracking, mobile and wearable solutions. "The everything customer doesn't want to be limited to a website or application," said Scheibenreif. A true multiexperience platform will meet customers where they are.
Don Scheibenreif says technology should bring us closer together. The winning CIO decides that the organization will stay engaged with the Everything Customer continuously. #GartnerSYM pic.twitter.com/XxY0IH2dFb— Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo™ (@Gartner_SYM) October 21, 2019
"As a CIO, you need to think like a designer" because designers think about their everything customer endlessly, he said. Domino's Pizza is one example of a company mastering digital touchpoints, including online ordering options through gaming devices and games on its mobile app.
The mulitexperience bridges the "and" dilemmas for the everything customer.
The enterprise and digital society
Companies need to invest in a safe digital society and protect the enterprise, while also balancing data value and responsible use, two more "and" paradoxes to navigate, said Mbula Schoen, senior principal analyst at Gartner, while speaking at the event.
The three ways to achieve both sides:
Information governance and consistent controls
Value-based data on customers, like personalization
More transparency for gaining trust, like giving users more control of their privacy settings
Spending on security increases 10% annually, but buying more security solutions "will not save us," said Schoen.
Instead of only offering cookie management, companies should construct a privacy portal with an "empathetic design" that's easy to use and understand for any user, according to Schoen.
Every company has a role in the emerging digital society, which naturally increases the chance of risk. To justify the risk a company is taking, especially with consumer data, businesses need to provide more transparency and control.
Companies are at the crossroad between building an effective business while protecting consumer — or human — right of privacy. The majority of stakeholders, 70%, believe companies should take action on societal issues that are relevant to their business.