Gartner reveals the 2016 CIO Agenda: Shift to platform thinking

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Leading businesses must shift to platform thinking across their business models, delivery mechanisms, talent and leadership, in order to survive and thrive, according to a global survey of CIOs by Gartner.

The survey showed that as the implications of digitalisation play out, it is becoming clear that hardcoded business and operational models will not suffice and that a more adaptable approach is required.

The survey gathered data from 2,944 CIO respondents representing more than US$250 billion in CIO IT budgets in 84 countries, including New Zealand.

Businesses and government agencies are looking less like fixed ‘systems’ and more like platforms

Data from the latest survey shows the average CIO expects digital revenue to grow from 16 per cent to 37 per cent of total revenue in the next five years.

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Similarly, public-sector CIOs are predicting a rise from 42 per cent to 77 per cent in digital processes.

While the meaning of digital revenue and processes is open to interpretation, it is clear that digital digital business is a reality now, and it is expected to be a significant aspect of achieving competitive advantage and differentiation using information and technology, reports Gartner.

"We are now knee-deep in the era of digital business, with many companies reimagining their business and operating models based on digital capabilities," says Dave Aron, vice president and Gartner fellow. "Businesses and government agencies are looking less like fixed ‘systems’ and more like platforms. A platform provides the business with a foundation where resources can come together — sometimes very quickly and temporarily, sometimes in a relatively fixed way — to create value."

"Leading economists have noted the increasing prevalence of platform business models, where multiple networks of stakeholders bring value to each other by exploiting network effects," notes Graham Waller, research vice president at Gartner. "Technologists have long recognised the power of platform approaches to information and technology architecture. What is new is that platform dynamics are being applied to create value in all aspects of the business."

Aron and Waller presented the findings of the report Building the Digital Platform: The 2016 CIO Agenda at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Florida.

The CIO’s to do list in 2016

  • Create a bimodal delivery platform

In 2014, Gartner said that it is essential to have two modes of IT, and ultimately of the entire business, to deal with both predictable and exploratory work.

Two years later, the 2016 CIO survey found that almost 40 per cent of CIOs are on the bimodal journey, with the majority of the remainder planning to follow in the next three years.

  • Evolve the talent platform

  • Build a leadership platform

CIOs must look at digital talent beyond the boundaries of the IT organisation, and indeed beyond the boundaries of the enterprise

The survey also showed that penetration of the chief digital officer role has stalled at 9 per cent, the same as last year. The results show that CIOs are being given the opportunity to lead digital transformation, but they must adapt their leadership style to exploit platform effects in leadership, building a network of digital leadership inside and outside the enterprise.

"Of course, not all businesses and government agencies are becoming platform businesses in terms of industry dynamics, either today or even in the near future," said Aron. "However, to remain competitive, all businesses need to understand and exploit platform effects throughout the business.

“If platform effects are not considered in any aspect of the business — such as leadership, talent or delivery — this represents a bottleneck in the enterprise's ability to deliver, attract and retain talent, and to ultimately be perceived by customers as adding value. CIOs must build a plan to evolve all layers of their business' digital platform."

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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