It’s been a slow start this year in terms of predictions and lists. Normally at this stage in January we have to stop looking at them. There are many possible reasons why this year is different, the most likely reason however could be the economic uncertainty and how businesses will deal with it this year. That said, Gartner has still been able to identity a top ten digital technology wish-list for 2013.
IT, Business ROI
There is a lot of interesting information around this survey, which was conducted with 2053 CIO’s, who are part of Gartner's Executive Programs, at the end of last year. Not least of these tid-bits is the fact that only 43% of technology’s true business potential is being exploited to give companies a competitive edge. This, Gartner says, can’t continue, and if IT is to remain relevant in an increasingly digital world then there will have to be a substantial increase in this percentage.
Overall, the CIO’s that were surveyed are responsible for more than US$ 230 billion in global IT budgets, so for vendors that are reading this, it is probably a good idea to take notes as people that control these kinds of budgets exercise real muscle in the market.
According to the report that was developed around the survey -- "Hunting and Harvesting in a Digital World: The 2013 CIO Agenda" -- this year will become a tipping point for many of the technologies that we are currently using.
Tipping Point Technologies
In particular, tipping point technologies include mobile, analytics, big data, social and cloud technologies. IT departments will have to drive more value out of these as business leaders look for better ROI on existing deployments. IT departments will have no choice as spending on technology will remain flat for this year -- the fifth year running -- and CIOs will have develop new IT strategies and plans that go beyond the usual day-to-day maintenance of an enterprise IT infrastructure.
Digital technologies provide a platform to achieve results, but only if CIOs adopt new roles and behaviors to find digital value…CIOs require a new agenda that incorporates hunting for new digital innovations and opportunities, and harvesting value from products, services and operations,” Mark McDonald of Gartner said.
He added that it is a matter of concern that more than half of CIOs do not see the role of IT changing over the next three years, despite the massive innovation and change that is likely to take place across all technology spaces.
For those that don’t change:
…IT needs new tools if it hopes to hunt for technology-intensive innovation and harvest raised business performance from transformed IT infrastructure, operations and applications. Without change, CIOs and IT consign themselves to tending a garden of legacy assets and responsibilities."
This is not the fault of CIOs or IT departments. The problem is one of investment and it is notable that CIO-IT budgets have been flat or have even shrunk since the dot-com bust of 2002.
The result is that for 2013 the top ten global technology priorities are as follows, revealing an emphasis on externally orientated digital technologies as opposed to IT/operationally orientated systems.
Translated into percentages, when asked about what technologies they thought would be most disruptive in the coming 10 years, the table looks like this:
- Mobile technologies -- 70%
- Big data/analytics -- 55%
- Social media -- 54%
- Public cloud at -- 51%
And while these technologies will be disruptive in isolation, the most disruptive of all will be when two or even more of these technologies are working together.
Changing CIO Role
The role of the CIO will also evolve and change and they will find themselves operating in areas that are well outside the traditional scope of the CIO, with the additional role of providing business value from technology deployments and hunting for new digital opportunities a key part of their role going forward.
In this respect, already 67% of those surveyed said they had, or will have, significant responsibilities outside of IT, a sharp contrast to a similar survey in 2008 when almost half of CIOs had no responsibilities outside of IT. According to this survey, nearly 20% now act as the enterprise’s chief digital officer who is responsible for leading digital commerce initiatives and managing digital commerce channels.
While this role is still only emerging and varies depending on the enterprise and industry, generally it involves ensuring that enterprises are evolving as new digital technologies come on line.
…However, the world outside IT has changed creating a quiet crisis for IT. Demands have increased in a world grown dynamic and digital. The harder CIOs work tended to current concerns, the less relevant IT became. CIOs know that the future rests in not repeating the past but in extending IT by hunting and harvesting in a digital world,” McDonald said.