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July 2013 Analyst Relations Newsletter


Maximizing the Symposium/ITxpo® Experience for Gartner High-Tech Clients

Jamie Popkin
Managing Vice President, Gartner Research

Summer is a great time to begin planning for Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, and the Gartner Events team has some great things in store as we develop our 2013 theme, “Leading in a Digital World.” We asked Jamie Popkin, Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2013 chairperson and Managing Vice President, Gartner Research, to talk about the insights that are informing this year’s learning tracks, and how our vendor clients can leverage all that Symposium has to offer.

Jamie, tell us first about this year’s Gartner Symposium theme, “Leading in a Digital World.” How does it reflect today’s business climate, and how is it driving the overall agenda for 2013?

We're seeing an acceleration of growth in the economy, which is very exciting. Likewise, we’re seeing an acceleration in the Nexus of Forces — mobile, social, cloud and information — particularly in the way those forces (and the interactions between them) are reshaping business. Companies no longer use IT just for back-end processing, but for every interaction with every participant. Whether you're buying, selling or partnering, it's all gone digital on a wide array of devices.

The challenge for CIOs and senior IT executives is to lead in this digital world. With so many new ways to think about strategic partnerships, the role of the IT department and the role of CIO, our focus at Symposium is to highlight underlying trends and drivers, and to give our attendees practical advice on how to deal with digitization.

In your role as Symposium chair, how do you guide your colleagues to deliver value to our attendees?

We want the content at Symposium to be thought-leading and consistent with the key initiatives that Gartner Research is writing about throughout the year. The goal is to create not just a collection of over 400 presentations, but a set of stories that tie together to meet the needs of the IT department and the CIO.

In developing the role-based tracks, I want to hear the stories and understand the motivations for each IT role — the business problems they face, the biggest IT infrastructure transition problems they're addressing. As we pull these insights together for the Symposium presentations, we focus on delivering clear insights and actionable advice on the major issues CIOs face and the direction they are giving their role-based management teams.

Let’s talk about the audience for a moment. Symposium focuses on attracting CIOs and senior IT leaders. But given that digitization affects every business function — sales, marketing, customer service, supply chain, distribution — how does Symposium deliver value to non-IT leaders?

Certainly the CIO is the target audience, and we had 6,100 CIOs attend last year’s worldwide Symposium events, with more expected this year. But with IT moving out to the business units, we’re also addressing a new set of job titles and responsibilities.

First, the chief marketing officer and the chief financial officer have a great reason to attend Symposium, because it will give them insight into the technology they're going to be acquiring, using, or financing in some way. We also have presentations that will speak directly to the role of the chief data officer and how it differs from other roles within the organization. And, because digital marketing is playing a key role in business, we'll have content targeted toward the chief digital marketing officer.

In the digital world, IT is an inherent and critical aspect of how you do business. So, while the focus is still on the CIO, there is certainly plenty of content and plenty of actionable advice for other business leaders at Symposium.

Aside from the opportunity to better understand and market to end users (which is enough to attract most vendors to this event), what are some other aspects of Symposium that will serve our high-tech clients this year?

Clearly, digitization has big implications for technology product and service providers. The changes we see on the demand side will be mirrored on the supply side for the vendor community. Much of the insight that we deliver at Symposium will help senior leaders at vendor organizations understand how the digital world affects demand, and what they can anticipate as they build their strategic plans.

As in previous years, we'll use role-based learning tracks to look at the ways in which the Nexus of Forces affects specific roles within the end-user IT department.

On the vendor side, the Strategic Initiatives track will highlight trends and phenomena that cross over the role-based structure. For example:

As thought leaders in cloud computing over the past five, years we’re continuing delve deeply into cloud business model that cuts across many of the different roles within the enterprise.

A mobile infrastructure & operations track will cover end-user computing, client computing and networking, with specialized topics such as mobile application development and how mobile is changing the workforce.

We’ll look at cognitive computing, and how smart machines are moving beyond the repetitive, mundane activities they’ve performed over the last few decades to replace some of the knowledge work that people have done.      

Another hot topic is the changing IT workforce. Many folks’ next IT job may not be in the IT department — so we’ll explore how that affects the way we organize and deliver IT services within the enterprise.

Identifying and understanding the fundamental changes in how end users think about and use IT will give technology vendors great insight into how to construct their future road maps.

Any special tips on how vendor clients with vertical industry applications can best leverage Symposium?

One particular highlight is Industry Sunday, which has expanded significantly this year. We've increased the number of presentations, and the event will run the entire day. This event has an incredible draw, because it enables attendees to build community within their industry from the very beginning of the conference.

What else should the AR community know in preparing for Symposium?

First, pay attention to Gartner research that’s being published leading up to the event. If you know what your analysts are working on in June, July and August, you’ll be able to advise your stakeholders on the interest points that the analyst is likely to bring out in their presentations.

Second, think about who else should attend. In addition to the marketing staff that will be transmitting your message at ITxpo, it’s important to have people in “receive” mode so they can hear the questions being asked on the show floor and listen to the relevant analysts. Consider bringing the CTO and their team. People who are building products, working on specific road maps or technology implementations, or making decisions about how to design and deliver products and services will benefit enormously from the unfiltered, unsolicited, first-person commentary that they can only get at Gartner Symposium.

Those are great points, Jamie. One last question to wrap this up: If you were chatting with someone in a vendor organization who was unsure whether to come to Symposium or not. what would you say to convince them?

We bill Gartner Symposium/ITxpo as the world's most important gathering of CIOs and senior IT executives, and that’s not just a marketing slogan. More than 6,000 global CIOs attend the Symposium series around the world, because they want the analysts’ insights, and they want to spend to time with their peers. It’s not unusual for one company to send 10 or 15 people to the event, and then to use it as part of their strategic planning process.

We have serious buyers and strategic planners getting together and doing some of their prime thinking for the year. From a vendor perspective, whether you seek to influence those end users with the messages that you're providing at ITxpo, or want to hear their true interests and concerns, Symposium is the place to be.