CIOs Tackle Leadership in the Era of Digital Disruption

Gartner analysts and CIOs discuss key trends at 2017 Gartner CIO Leadership Forum.

How does a California winery founded in 1933 transform a culture rooted in farming to an innovative business capable of seizing digital opportunity? Sanjay Shringarpure, CIO at E&J Gallo Winery, was hired in 2014 to help grow technology from a cost center role and add business value, he told the audience of CIOs on a panel at Gartner CIO Leadership Forum in Phoenix, Arizona.

Shringarpure shared that his approach was to create five major platforms to invest in for growth. For the agriculture platform, three interns were tasked with the challenge of determining how to digitalize the time-consuming process of checking whether the grapes were ready to harvest. The result was an innovative app that reduces labor costs while increasing the acreage scheduled for harvest each season in a shorter period of time.

Image of CIOs at the Gartner CIO forum
Louis Boyle, Gartner VP, Executive Partner, and Stephen Lefebvre, Executive Partner, interviewed Curtis Carver Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officerfor the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Chris Nicolaides President, Tech College at Capital One; and Sanjay Shringarpure, CIO at E&J Gallo Winery

This story illustrates a key theme from 2017 Gartner CIO Leadership Forum — an imperative for CIOs to unlock the potential of digital for the business by instilling a mode of continuous innovation when the necessary talent is in short supply.

In the opening keynote, Val Sribar, global vice president and head of Gartner’s CIO Research Group, said, “Digital will impact each part of your business model. Help your COO and CFO understand which part.” Calling on CIOs to envision, drive and discover, Sribar added, “You need to find your role in digital when someone else is driving.”

Insights on machine learning from the next generation

Mike Walsh, author and CEO of research lab Tomorrow, in a keynote on reinventing leadership for the age of machine intelligence, declared that we are all being called to reinvent, reimagine and, redesign what we have for a new world that will be dominated by thinking machines. It will also be driven by the new generation using it.

“If you are a child today, there is a layer of machine learning between you and every experience in the world. There is no experience that you have that is the same as everyone else,” Walsh said. Walsh said that children today will be “partly raised by AI” and suggested that tech leaders tap into the worldview of the youngest members of their organizations. “Ask them to describe how their personal experiences with data and machine learning might inform your future products and services,” he said.

CEO priorities for growth

Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner Fellow, shared a preview of the Gartner 2017 CEO Survey and their priorities for growth and technology. Reflecting on how CIOs should respond, Raskino emphasized their need to scale the metrics required to measure success. According to Graham Waller, vice president and distinguished analyst, they must also adapt their leadership mindset necessary to enable digital progress in the enterprise.

Graphic from CEO agenda

Read More: The 2017 CIO Agenda [Infographic]

Scale bimodal for continuous innovation

In her session on leveraging bimodal to succeed with digital business, Donna Scott, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, noted that 71% of Top Performers report that bimodal IT improves innovation, according to the 2017 CIO Survey. Scott explored how to scale bimodal to infuse bimodal work styles into the enterprise. This results in changes to the operating model to achieve the sustained and continuous innovation necessary for digital business.

For example, BTG plc, an international healthcare company that develops products for critical care, cancer and other disorders, created an innovative snakebite app to help victims find the right critical care facility as quickly as possible. The team shifted digital ownership to lines of business, composed a team with full-time members and part-timers brought in upfront, and evolved the culture to one willing to change, learn and rotate staff to gain excitement.

“When you scale bimodal, you need to know where you’re going,” Scott said.

Participation in a Digital Ecosystem

Tomas Nielsen, research director at Gartner, reviewed the 2017 CIO Agenda, in which top-performing companies indicated increased participation in digital ecosystems. Digital ecosystem membership increases business value, Nielsen said.

A linear value chain business is one-dimensional and one-directional. However, a digital ecosystem business is multidimensional and multidirectional, he noted. Nielsen called on CIOs to create their core technology digital-ecosystem-ready action plans to reach “escape velocity.” An organization reaches escape velocity when it moves so fast compared to its peers that it escapes their influence.CIOFORUM_Agenda_Top_Performers

Read More: Ecosystems Drive Digital Growth

 Talent searching in the digital world

The digital world calls for digital skills, and companies need to figure out what their brand communicates to a new age of jobseekers. In his session Branded: Case Studies in Presenting IT Organizations to Talent, Richard Hunter, vice president and Gartner Fellow, explained that people make job decisions based on four things: The enterprise mission, the culture of the organization, the lifestyle the job creates for the employee and his/her family, and the nature of the work.

Read More: How CIOs Need to Think About Top Talent

Mr. Hunter urged CIOs to be deliberate about their brands. “You have a brand whether you know it or not. You have a brand whether or not it’s the brand you want to have. Make sure the brand you have is the brand you want,” he said.

For example, the traditional corporate job posting design doesn’t mesh with a description that claims the job offers opportunities to innovate. However, a startup that uses bright colors and modern design and asks if candidates “have the mojo” has a message and brand that match the type of candidate they’re looking for.

CIO forum women's program
At the Women’s CIO Program, Tina Nunno, vice president and Gartner Fellow and author of The Wolf in CIO’s Clothing (Bibliomotion, 2015); and Heather Colella, research vice president, played the “light” and “dark” sides of organizational politics.

Watch More: CIO Power Politics: How to Say No Assertively [Video]

The connected society

In the closing keynote, Connected! An Exploration of How to Live and Work in the Digital Society, Frank Buytendijk, vice president and Gartner Fellow, explored the concept of digital connectivism, which describes how people and things exist and interact in the global ecosystem of digital connections, and how this shapes a digital society. As smart things begin to gain agency and display attributes that are distinctly human-like, what does the relationship between things and people look like? This question raises concerns around the variety and transparency of both good and bad connections.

Summing it up, Mr. Buytendijk noted that in a digital society, people will need to take their digital identity seriously (and own it); society must reinvent economic growth, social value, law and tax; and businesses must understand all of the connections. In a digital society, he said, “We are our technology.”

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Client Research
Gartner clients can read more about how CIOs can prepare for the digital future in the full report  in the digital world in the full report Predicts 2017: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way — A Gartner Trend Insight Report

Leadership eBook
Learn how to lead through digital disruption. Download the complimentary CIO Leadership eBook.

CIO Conferences
Gartner analysts, and industry leaders will discuss key issues facing the CIO during Gartner’s CIO conferences taking place May 8-9 in Magaliesburg, South Africa, May 18-19 in Munich, June 6-8 in Toronto and August 29 – 31 in Cancun.  You can follow news and updates from the event on Twitter using #GartnerCIO.

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