Gartner Keynote: 5 Significant Imperatives for Digital Success

June 04, 2019

Contributor: Kasey Panetta

At Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo, Gartner analysts described the ContinuousNext concept and how CIOs can use it to shape, shift and share new mindsets and practices.

The rapid pace of digital business evolution means that organizations must be continuously adapting their business and operating models. Canadian organizations are pursuing business model change, but there is still more to do. Twenty-two percent of Canadian CIOs say that no business model change is anticipated. But for most organizations, some degree of change is required to accomplish their business priorities.

“ ContinuousNext is a strategy to achieve success in a world that is constantly changing”

“If you pursue the right strategy and quickly adapt to what’s next, you will be ready to deal with sustained and rapid change. This builds momentum through and beyond digital transformation using the approach we call ContinuousNext,” said Chris Howard. Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner in the opening keynote at Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo™ 2019 in Toronto. “ContinuousNext is a strategy to achieve success in a world that is constantly changing.”

He suggested that the audience of over 900 CIOs and IT leaders start with a simple formula: (Mindsets + Practices) X Technology = Capabilities  

Chris Howard, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner, explains the ContinuousNext formula.

Changing mindsets lead to new practices, which are amplified by technology, leading to new capabilities and yielding new results.

Given constrained resources and resistance to culture change, leaders should embrace five significant imperatives to enact a ContinuousNext strategy in their organizations.


Mastering privacy and creating trusted digital connections is an urgent imperative for ContinuousNext. Gartner believes that Canada is ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to privacy regulations. In ContinuousNext, privacy and data security techniques will continue to evolve.

Privacy is one of the top barriers to being (or becoming) a dynamic organization. How consumers feel about privacy, and what actions they take surrounding privacy, have shifted. Today’s consumers are updating privacy settings or even deleting social media accounts altogether. Further, governments are taking action with legislation like CASL and GDPR. As consumers become less willing to sacrifice security and safety for convenience, organizations must carefully balance deriving value from consumer data with protecting it. Privacy is now a board-level issue, and CIOs need to maintain data protections to ensure a dynamism that supports ContinuousNext evolution.

A smart way to change culture without big pronouncements and 100-page slide decks, is to start culture hacking, according to Kristin Moyer, Distinguished VP,  Analyst at Gartner. Organizations that hack their culture can turn a barrier into an accelerator. CIOs might want to try this. Gartner predicts that by 2021, CIOs will be as responsible for culture change as are Chief Human Resource Officers.

Augmented intelligence

Remarkable advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have taken it to the point of augmented intelligence. In recent years, AI has met human capability in reading comprehension, Chinese and English language translation, and cancer diagnostics. As a broad collection of technologies, AI works not as programmed technologies, but instead as learning systems that rely more on data than programming. Because they are networked, they will learn from their peer AI systems — and advance exponentially.

“ The most impactful AI implementations are those in which people interact with the technology in a collaborative system”

However, although organizations that have yet to launch an AI initiative fear that it will displace human jobs, those that have adopted AI technologies find this isn’t the case. Howard noted that the reality is that organizations are beginning to use AI not to replace humans, but to augment the work they’re able to do. People work side by side with AI, which extends their capabilities and makes jobs more impactful. In other words, the most impactful AI implementations are those in which people interact with the technology in a collaborative system versus those in which people merely consult the technology as a separate system.

Continuous modernization 

Organizations must move away from only supporting and working around legacy infrastructure. The focus is now on modernizing the core to shape change and drive digital transformation. This is what Gartner calls continuous modernization.

Canadian organizations are already making great strides in modernizing the core. For example, modernization is often tied to a cloud source strategy, and Canada’s spending on cloud services is second only to the U.S.

“However, to make the leap to continuous modernization, organizations must focus on three things — shaping a different type of relationship with your business by aligning with partners; shifting mindset toward legacy infrastructure by recognizing the dynamism that is central to a continuous modernization effort; and sharing insights and new perspectives with your leaders, allies and teams,” said Katherine Lord, VP Analyst, Gartner. “A renovated core technology platform that is continuously modernized will spring you forward into the next phase of your ContinuousNext journey.”

Katherine Lord, VP Analyst at Gartner, explains how organizations can make the leap to continuous modernization.

Digital product management

Some of the most powerful companies have fused digital technology into products, creating a new management practice across all industries. Digital products are now in every industry, which has given rise to a new push for digital product managers.

“Digital product management is a core imperative of ContinuousNext, and accelerating adoption means that if you don’t start soon, you may never catch up,” said Hung LeHong, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner.

The Gartner 2019 CIO Survey shows that top performers are twice as likely to be doing product-centric delivery. Digital product management isn’t just a different way of doing IT, LeHong noted. It’s a different way of doing business.

By shifting to a digital product mindset, organizations can put customers at the center of their development. Desjardins, for example, has digital product managers for its external products like the Radar app, as well as its internal products such as an app to manage purchase orders. Orient Overseas Shipping and Container Line (OOCL) digitally revolutionized itself with a software as a service platform that provides, to both internal and external customers, information and analytics about shipping routes, vessel locations and cargo tracking.


Organizations must have a dynamic culture to enable ContinuousNext. However, culture is identified by 46% of CIOs as the largest barrier to realizing the promise of digital business. Mary Mesaglio, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner, says the first rule of culture change is to know what you want to change into. In terms of getting there, you will need to do a lot of big change. But what leaders systematically leave on the table are the smaller actions that could have just as big an impact on change.

“ Culture hacking takes change off the horizon and inserts it into people’s day-to-day”

A smart way to change culture without big pronouncements and 100-page slide decks is to start culture hacking, says Mesaglio.

“By culture hacking, we don’t mean finding a vulnerable point to break in to a system. It’s about finding vulnerable points in your culture and turning them in to real change that sticks,” said Mesaglio. “Culture hacking takes change off the horizon and inserts it into people’s day-to-day, in a visceral, memorable way. A great culture hack incites an immediate emotional response — shock, love, shame, pride — has immediate results, and is visible to lots of people at once.”

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