3 Steps for CIOs to Transition to the Digital Workplace

September 08, 2015

Contributor: Rob van der Meulen

Brush off the cobwebs of IT industrialization to best prepare your organization for the digital economy.

Gartner's 2015 CIO Survey shows many organizations are well on their way to transitioning from the era of IT industrialization to the digital economy, but some legacy practices remain. These must be updated or dispensed with to fully embrace both the digital workplace and the operationally agile approach of bimodal IT. Gartner recommends three steps.

Step 1: Extend IT planning horizons

Our 2015 CIO survey said that 84 percent of CIO planning is still based on a two-year horizon. Extending this enables the IT group to become a more strategic contributor to long-term business success.

“Given the life expectancy of many technology investments, it would also help IT leaders make better investment decisions,” said Matt Cain, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Allow your organization to gain competitive advantage by capitalizing more prudently on emerging technology, as well as human capital and consumer trends.”

To help with this transition, Gartner recommends a planning process we call "Impact 2020." First, identify your desired business outcomes for 2020, then determine the skills, attitudes and expectations of your organization and employees. Use these to pinpoint the technologies and services needed to achieve the outcomes. Working with IT, HR, business and facilities representations, Impact 2020 will allow you to synthesize the trends in these fields.


Step 2: Invest in post-nexus technologies

The Nexus of Forces (mobile, social, cloud and information) is not on the horizon; it is here. Already, CIOs are beginning to think about — and even actively pursue — post-Nexus technologies. In fact, Gartner data suggests that the CEO is even further down this path and is already assuming that nexus technologies and the digital business are happening today. These technologies include the Internet of Things (IoT), thinking machines, augmented human, 3D printing and robotics.

The majority of CIOs in our survey have already started investigating or even deploying IoT-related technology, smart machines or augmented human technology. Adoption will be widespread, so what will differentiate organizations will be the manner of adoption.

“This area must be handled with sensitivity, so that employees view technology as an asset – one that will help their development and ultimately make them more valuable to the company,” Mr. Cain said. “An IT, HR and business leader partnership is required to ensure implementation is holistic, effective and sensitive to employee concerns.”

Step 3: Focus metrics on employee engagement

IT cost and service levels are the two metrics mostly used to judge CIO performance. Both are leftovers from the IT industrialization era. Demonstrate more clearly the contribution of the IT group to business outcomes by promoting new metrics based on its nonfinancial value and contribution to innovation.

These metrics will help the organization focus on employee engagement, which can be defined as how willing employees are to help achieve their organization's goals and be an active community member. Working with HR, the IT group can help encourage this by offering a more consumer like work environment, enabling higher levels of collaboration, recognition, wellness and transparency.

Extend the IT group's focus beyond technology, automation and maintenance. In a period of change for the workplace, employee engagement becomes a high priority to ensure that the workforce embraces new business models.

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