CIOs look to "tame the technology dragon" in 2014: Dave Aron

Social Media strategy, Analytics & Enablement, IBM
CIOs will spend the next 12 months "taming the digital dragon," according to Gartner VP and Fellow Dave Aron.
The dragon in question is the "nexus of forces" (Cloud, Social Business, Mobility, Big Data/Analytics) introduced earlier in the day by Gartner SVP and Global Head of Research Peter Sondegaard. 
In 2014, said Aron, CIOs will direct their budgets, staff and infrastructures to effecting a shift from "reactive effectivness to proactive innovation." Whereas the former saw CIOs focusing on satisfying customers inside their organizations, the latter sees them exploring new ways IT can help their organizations win customers and market share in the open markets. The insights were a sneak peek of sorts into preliminary findings from Gartner's annual CIO Survey.
Aron described this shift as the third wave in enterprise IT, in which CIOs have the opportunity to regain the impetus for innovation, dynamism and risk-taking - something they haven't widely seen or practiced in at least 15 years. CIOs took many steps over that time to gain the respect of their business executives (shared services and service level agreements and talk of "robust processes", for example), Aron said, and their results have in large part paid off. Early figures from the Gartner study show CIOs by and large enjoying a good relationship with their business peers.
For example:
  • Business users are satisified with IT: Most organizations (39%) report being "satisified" with their IT departments - a figure achieved through better program management, structural changes in the CIO's office and good management for governance and risk.
  • Business can partner with IT: A full 43 percent of business executives see IT as business partners; only three percent report a relationship at risk. "This looked much different a year ago," Aron said. 
  • Budgets are growing, if slowly: This goodwill is reflected in the finding that 43 percent of CIOs expect increases in their budgets (however modest), compared to only 17 pecent who expect to do more with less. "It's not exuberant, but it's also not as tough as it has been," Aron observed.
CIOs will need to capitalize on this goodwill - and extend their relationships further into the front office - should they wish to tame the dragon in 2014. Organizations that do so will implement new management structures, technologies and approaches that will yield productivity and growth. Organizations that fail to tame the beast - or pretend that he's not even there - won't be here for long.
With the recession of 2008 now five years past, organizations are slowly turning their attention back to growth, Aron said. However, they must do so in a fluid and dynamic new environment where the old ways of doing things simply won't work. 
Further numbers from the Garner survey bear this out. For example: 54% of business leaders say they're concerned about a "digital torrent" of opportunities and threats, while only 39% say they're able to respond. The problem? A significant gap in the skills organizations need to respond. In this new "digital torrent," where competitors can emerge from any industry at any time, organizations are starving for people who can help them understand what's going on - people skilled in digital design, social sciences, data sciences and the cloud. 
To respond, Aron provided four recommendations:
  • To Do: introduce or strengthen a "two-speek" IT structure that allows you to focus on innovating and maintaining mission critical systems at the same time.
  • To Re-do: Refresh your IT infrastructure and service capabilities to be "digital-ready."
  • Don't do: Avoid digital leadership gaps, overlaps and ambiguity
  • To Undo: Reinvigorate your sourcing and partnerships to kickstart innovation. 
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