Digital business is an overarching theme that covers how the blurring of the physical and virtual worlds is transforming business designs, industries, markets and organizations. The continuing digital business evolution exploits new digital models to align more closely the physical and digital worlds for employees, partners and customers. Technology will be embedded in everything in the digital business of the future. Rich digital services will be delivered to everything and intelligence will be embedded in everything behind the scenes.

More and more CEOs are being challenged by customers and their boards of directors to make digital business change happen. Deep transformation can only be enacted at scale if it is systematically driven. There are four important steps: defining what digital means for your business, aligning it to the specific type of growth sought in your economic model, setting the primary success metric to keep check of progress and deciding which KPIs must change to make the progress happen across the business.

What do IT executives need to keep in mind when it comes to digital transformation?

  • As digitalization matures, participation in digital ecosystems increases, making the enterprises more digitally interdependent. CIOs must prepare for this transition.
  • Information and analytics skills gaps persist; basic skills too are in short supply as the move to digital ecosystems changes the required IT capabilities. Take steps to mitigate these shortages
  • Understanding business priorities and applying value disciplines to inform management and execution is foundational to transition to digital ecosystem participation.
  • Though ecosystem participation can take different forms — providing or co-creating an ecosystem, selling or buying through one — an ecosystem creates value by supporting business models that enable participants to achieve performance superior to businesses that operate independently. Likewise, ecosystems enable public-sector agencies to gain efficiency dividends and deliver a superior citizen experience.

Why are Digital Ecosystems important for IT executives?

Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 30 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. The advent of digital business expands and evolves the opportunities, threats and constraints of leveraging a business ecosystem. A digital business ecosystem is a marketplace of functions and information. It is a network construct whereby multiple value forms are exchanged for the benefit of all participants. Business ecosystems can help develop and sell products and complement existing services and capabilities. They also can directly impact business operations, including the use of cloud, IoT, mobility and business analytics.

What are the five major technology platforms digital business needs?

The platforms that support digital business will need to evolve to maximize the economic value of connections. Digital business will require a looser ecosystem that encompasses a broader set of technologies. The shift to ecosystems (and the highly collaborative nature of them) means a business model with multiple actors playing multiple roles. These ecosystems become the DNA of a Digital Society that connects and impact every individual, family, community, state, organization, government, and country. The technology now available, and explosion of ecosystems enabled by technology is interconnecting this small planet. The five major technology platforms digital business needs are:

  • Information systems platform
  • Customer experience platform
  • Data and analytics platform
  • IoT platform
  • Ecosystems platform

Q&A with Gartner experts on digital business transformation

In the past year, the realization is that digital business transformation is very hard work and could take much longer to execute than originally planned. There are emerging technologies with great transformation process, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. But they are difficult to implement, and this delays business benefits.


Perhaps the biggest mistake organizations make regarding digital business transformation is to assume the effort is all about technology when actually it is about culture and business. There is a growing realization among our clients that digital business transformation is more than a matter of technology. It must entail business model transformation as well. It can be difficult for CIOs to amass support for this level of change. They need to partner with executives to create a shared vision for transformation.


Many organizations, challenged by the sheer magnitude of a transformation, operate incrementally to optimize their business, which can yield helpful and even significant short-term results. There are a lot of lessons to learn from organizations that have embarked on transformation initiatives, even if they are not in your industry. One of the trends we are observing is the creation of alternative structures to pursue digital business transformation. This frees up part of the organization to push the boundaries on how digital business shifts markets and enables new value propositions.


… find that their business or institution is obsolete and not relevant to a digital society.


Attending Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo™ will help IT executives with their priorities and key initiatives by providing provocative and practical presentations, workshops and other sessions that directly address most of their pressing priorities. In addition, the conference provides a tremendous opportunity to meet peers in their industry, and other industries, who likely are all working on similar problems, and to gain feedback on what you are doing.


Hot Topics covered at Symposium will include

  • Scaling Digital Business
  • I&T Operating Model
  • Digital KPIs
  • Digital Society
  • Ecosystems
  • Willful Disruption