Digital skills shortage a pressing IT problem: Gartner

Social Media strategy, Analytics & Enablement, IBM

CIOs who fail to lead a digital strategy for their organizations face the decay of their authority, influence and budgets, warned Gartner SVP and Global Head of Research Peter Sondegaard.

Sondegaard issued the wake-up call this morning to some 8,500 global CIOs and IT professionals during his opening keynote address at Gartner Symposium ITxpo in Orlando, Florida.

In a dynamic, near-breathless address beamed to overflow screens throughout the Swan and Dolphin hotels, Sondegaard explained how a "nexus of forces" - Cloud, Big Data, Mobility and Social Business - are driving the creation of a new "Digital Industrial Economy" in which every organization, budget and employee is digitized - that is, infused with sensors, microprocessors, IP addresses or even all three. 

This "nexus of forces" - working also in conjunction with the Internet of Things -is ushering in an exciting new time of unprecedented opportunities for innovation and growth, said Sondegaard "However, he added, few IT organizations have the skills to take advantage of them.” 

For example: deployment cycles are now so compressed - and enabling technology now so easy to use - that a CMO can have a mobile marketing campaign in-market and delivering results in six weeks - the same timeframe IT usually takes to complete a needs assessment. 

"Boards and CEOs are worried about Digitization and they're frustrated by slow progress," said Sondegaard. "Technology is now so important to Marketing that 70 percent of organizations have a Chief Technology Officer operating independent of IT. Business units know they can reinvent the way they operate. They're moving ahead to delight customers and make employees more productive. They're not willing to wait."

Sondegaard cited recent Gartner research revealing a major communications and credibility gap between CEOs' expectations of IT and how CIOs themselves evaluate their effectiveness at rising to the challenge. While half of CEOs and business executive’s surveyed request better delivery from IT, only 10 percent of CIOs say they have an execution problem. 

"Is this your future? One where your budgets and authority are marginalized?" he asked. 

Sondegaard urged CIOs to respond by creating a digital strategy - one that puts Digitization at the core of every aspect of the organization. Sondegaard said many CIOs are aware of the emerging opportunities but are hampered in their efforts to capitalize on them because of outdated roles, responsibilities and organizational structures. 

These roles are changing, however. Sondegaard says the rise of a new position - the "Chief Digital Officer - will help CIOs and their teams move more quickly and deliver more innovation. “Most Chief Digital Officers will be change agents," he said. "By 2020, the role will cease to exist, because Digital skills will be pervasive throughout the organization."

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