Gartner Research

The CIO's Role in Creating an Adaptive Digital Business

Published: 19 February 2018

ID: G00352358

Analyst(s): Jeffrey Cole, Fabio Chesini , Brian Prentice


Enterprises are striving to sense and respond to an ambiguous digital economy. IT will be the focus for catalyzing and evangelizing new management philosophies underpinned by next-generation technology. Rather than supporting the shift to adaptive digital business, CIOs will be at the vanguard.

Table Of Contents
  • Key Question
  • Opportunities and Challenges
  • How This Report Will Help



Executive Summary

  • Adaptability: A necessary trait of digital business
  • Nurturing adaptability through “heterarchies”
  • Building the adaptive technology framework

Adaptability: A necessary trait of digital business

  • Dealing with ambiguity is crucial to long-term digital business success
  • Persistent ambiguity requires systemic adaptability
  • Digitalized bureaucracy: An impediment to adaptability
  • The efficiency-adaptability trade-off
  • CIO action plan

Nurturing adaptability through “heterarchies”

  • Heterarchies and their core capabilities
  • Building a heterarchical management model
  • CIOs and the agile imperative — leading the charge to adaptive capability
  • CIO action plan

Building the adaptive technology framework

  • Why is a technology framework needed?
  • Social technology enables lattices to emerge
  • Artificial intelligence automates administration
  • Blockchain and distributed ledger create systemic trust
  • Conclusion

Appendix: Case Studies

  • Evolving the architecture of business at Consensys
  • Digital transformation drives improved management structures at Northwestern Mutual
  • McChrystal Group enables “adaption by necessity” within the Joint Special Operations Task Force
  • Rainforest QA manages 60,000 workers with virtually no human intervention

Further Reading

  • Related content
  • Core research
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Websites

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