How will CIOs Lead the Digital Enterprise? Gartner Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo™ Q&A with Chris Howard

August 20, 2015

Contributor: Heather Pemberton Levy

The pressures of digital business innovation require savvy leadership from CIOs and their teams to grow and maintain stability.

Ahead of Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2015, we asked Chris Howard, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner and conference chair for the event in Orlando, to share his views on the pressures of digital business and how CIOs rise to the challenge.

Q: As organizations strive to innovate with digital business, what new pressures do CIOs face?

The pressures of digital business innovation are mostly related to accelerated change and redistribution of control. Businesses of all types and geographies are engaged in a fast-moving ecosystem in which all the players are furiously experimenting. Business goals change more rapidly than traditional IT can respond, therefore CIOs must innovate with technology while renovating their digital core and running a rock-solid IT shop.
To complicate matters, the market is exploding with new technologies to support trends like advanced analytics, security, and the Internet of Things. In addition, new architecture patterns are just emerging across multiple domains that shake the foundations of traditional IT solutions. CIOs and their teams must keep all of these moving pieces on their radar and make small strategic bets part of their innovation efforts.
As organizations gain experience with digital business solutions, they are coming face to face with new issues of risk, security, and ethics. The wide-ranging availability of data means that CIOs must be clear on how that data is being used, what the mutual benefits of its usage are, and how people perceive and experience risk. The world of digital business technology opens up a multitude of decisions, some of which may seem attractive but are actually dangerous in the long run.

“CIOs must be master influencers with their peers”

Q: How must CIOs adapt their leadership styles and organizations to meet these challenges?

Digital business technologies are disrupting business operations in ways that have not previously been seen. IT leaders should act as change agents by adapting their thinking, their methods and their technologies to support fluidic change and by becoming proponents of digital technology. Because budgets to fund digital business initiatives often originates outside IT, CIOs must be master influencers with their peers, working with them to integrate progressive technology and data capabilities into current projects and products. As a result, CIOs must stay on top of technology trends and articulate their benefit in the remastering of the business.
Many Gartner clients are pursuing bimodal IT as a means to being simultaneously fluid and rock solid. This means that they are getting comfortable with a variety of governance styles, iterative and continuous delivery, and citizen IT resources outside the IT shop.

Q: How are the tracks and content at Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2015 structured to help CIOs lead for digital business change?

In 2015, we have organized the Gartner IT Symposium/ITxpo content around common mission critical priorities. This is a shift from prior years which focused on various roles and domains. There is a set of technology and information tracks, two leadership tracks, and a set of tracks focused on delivering business value.
The technology and information tracks represent different planning horizons and focus: Renovate the IT Core (practical actions to take now); Architect the Digital Business (emerging patterns to help set strategy); Plan for the Digital Future (trends with more distant impact). The leadership tracks focus on the individual as a leader in the digital enterprise, and on organizational issues such as the digital workplace. New this year, we have a track called Drive Business Growth which explores the use of technology to enable new sources of revenue and customer engagement. In addition, there is a day of industry focused content where issues in many distinct verticals are explored as well as cross-industry learnings.
This is an exciting portfolio of content to help CIOs, and their teams, answer the most pressing questions in a fast-paced digital world. The advice will range from practical to visionary, and represents our best thinking across all Gartner agendas. 

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