Planning For A Digital Future: Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Q&A with Jamie Popkin

September 02, 2015

Contributor: Christy Pettey

Digital business has pushed many companies into more risky decisions. Opportunities will arise to make the risk worth considering

Digital technologies are evolving at an unprecedented pace and will have a disruptive impact on enterprises. IT leaders will need to be prepared for what’s on the horizon by adapting their thinking, methods and technologies to support the fluidic change of the digital future.

How can IT leaders be prepared for the change ahead? To discuss this, we asked Jamie Popkin, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, for advice on how CIOs can plan for the digital future. Gartner’s Jamie Popkin says CIOs need to need to adapt their thinking, methods and technologies to support the fluidic change of the digital future

What technologies and trends do you see as the main drivers of the digital future?

Digital and autonomous machines are key drivers of the digital future. Everything has a digital connection or representation. Physical objects are now active participants in business interactions, and machines are beginning to operate in an autonomous mode that doesn't require human intervention. This finally gets us to a point at which almost any virtual or real-world process can be altered with minimum overhead and setup time. For example, digital and autonomous machines enable us to virtually hail a taxi, or allow a warehousing robot to independently find a palette of goods, deliver it to a packer and simultaneously update inventory in real time.

In the digital future, every resource, asset or capability will be digitally accessible or changeable. The technologies now support the emergence of different types of business models, which depend increasingly on the technologies used. A bank can exist without machines or digital technologies. However, a crowdsourced lending network, or a worldwide digital currency interchange cannot exist without digitalization.

What steps can CIOs take now to plan for the digital future?

For the agility and speed required to be more responsive to changes in business demands, IT needs to evolve how it manages internal and external resources. To further meet business demands, IT needs to become bimodal, keeping the enterprise operating while providing innovations to help the business appreciate the art of the possible.

Accomplishing all this requires a renovated IT core. A renovated core will be the foundation of future digitalization initiatives, especially those requiring more business openness and stronger links to the outside world of customers and services.

What challenges and risks should businesses be prepared to face?

Digital business increases the underlying complexities and dependencies of technology, dramatically increasing the variety of attacks, and amplifying the effects of disruptions across networks of individuals, enterprises and machines. The aggregation of enormous amounts of data increases the risks associated with both authorized and unauthorized access.

The complexity of networked dependencies in digital business complicates the assessment and management of risk, forcing reliance on trust when verification is difficult, even if large and sophisticated players are involved. Moreover, where regulatory compliance was once an acceptable standard of protection, the new standard is resilience.

Most enterprise business functions, including IT, are now architected for agility and convenience. In the next decade, the trade-offs between convenience and resilience will be difficult, and significant investment will be required throughout the enterprise. Technology alone will not protect the individual and the enterprise from their own carelessness or malicious actors. Increased personal awareness and responsibility for safety and propriety must come into play.

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