Stacy L headshot updatedLast week I had the honor of traveling to Barcelona for the Gartner EMEA Symposium 2015 where there were a number of impactful statements being shared by Gartner, attendees and other industry experts.

The theme could not be missed – IT must shift their focus from controlling how technology is deployed and leveraged to being influencers around technology decisions in order to drive the digital business. Peter Sondergaard in his opening keynote for the event said “influence scales”; calling for CIOs to transition as the guardian, operator and innovator driving the digital agenda. What did he mean by that?

  • Guardians protect they don’t control. They take intelligent risk to drive the business forward.
  • Operators are stewards in creating a new culture that embraces bi-modal IT. This is a new operating model where members of organizations are leveraging new innovative and agile practices while maintaining critical legacy systems and processes.
  • Innovators who are aspirational. They aren’t just asking what the business needs, but are watching employees work and innovating ways to make work easier and better.

Embracing Today’s Digital World

traffic jams in the city, road, rush hour

Credit: iStock, Kichigin

Do not fear. The message wasn’t for IT leaders to shift their overall operating models – but to instead leverage the new digital world around them with the Internet of Things (IoT) as the platform to make the transition. Peter Sondergaard spoke about how the future of businesses is focused around algorithms. Big data is out, algorithms are in. Meaning it isn’t just about getting the data, but automating intelligent and calculated actions based on the flow and exchange of data.

Gartner was clear, successful businesses will be defined by interconnections, relationships and algorithms.  One example, from the session, of how this is changing people’s lives today is Waze. Waze is the largest community based traffic system leveraging the world of social to communicate real-time traffic patterns and road conditions. People who use Waze actually change traffic patterns dynamically leveraging algorithms that are calculating peer information and making best recommendations for new routes. Gartner predicts it is this attribute that will transform into new business apps and change the speed and quality of how we operate today.

Don’t believe it yet? Here are a few stats that were shared during the week.

  • By 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40% of interactions. You may think this is far off, but think about the virtual assistants in help desks or even Siri in our personal lives. It is coming.
  • In 2005, 70% of technology buys came from IT, now only 58% comes from IT and the number is dropping. Technology purchases are no longer exclusive but are now out in the open, handled directly by those who need and leverage the technology.
  • By 2020, 50% of large enterprises will have a digital risk officer who manages IT and IoT risk. This may be the most indicative stat that a whole new C-level role is emerging. One that will focus on how much risk a business can handle in order to drive the digital agenda. Gartner stated that as organizations start embracing the cloud, they will realize their risk is actually changing. Look at the major hacks over this past year – the majority were attacks to organizations’ internally hosted systems, not cloud-based systems.

People-Centric Security

The other significant theme prevalent throughout the week was security. There was a significant push to think about people-centric security. As the business becomes more defined by algorithms, operations become repeatable, standardized and auditable. Which sees risk levels actually going down. It all comes back to IT shifting to influencer and releasing the reigns of who buys technology, where it’s deployed, and manual programming. Instead IT needs to act as trusted advisor, creating a framework where interconnectivity, relationships and algorithms can thrive.

The final keynote by Don Tapscott, author of the Digital Economy, included many more examples of how the digital business is

Los Angeles, United States - May 17, 2013: A cockpit with LCD digital speedometer and steering wheel of electric car Tesla Model S during drive. Tesla electric cars are produced by Tesla Motors, Inc. in California, USA.

Credit: iStock, mbbirdy

already here. From a hotel in Japan serviced by robots, to Google’s countless new apps and devices. Don went as far to say that he believes, in the next decade, the big three auto manufactures will be Google, Apple and Tesla. Talk about algorithms and interconnectivity dramatically changing the way we operate today.

Of course, my favorite advice from Don was his recommendation for IT departments to establish an IT Service supermarket. It’s where employees can come for self-service and automated provisioning of the apps and services they need to be productive. He advised that these employee-1st solutions and apps will help strengthen the connection between IT and the business. (I almost wanted to jump out of my seat to show Todd RES ONE Service Store, as we are doing that for organizations globally already, but I held back to a single tweet).

I not only left the conference inspired by how this new world of algorithms, interconnectivity and relationships are going to change the world, but enthused to see it already happening. The RES booth was full of executives looking for solutions to help them along the digital business journey. RES ONE is aligned with this need of promoting a people-centric digital workspace solution for designing, automating and controlling every aspect of the entire end-user journey – ranging from onboarding, service automation, self-servicing and workspace security for offboarding.

To hear a bit more on the keynote, check out my interview by Executive People in the Netherlands reporting on Day 1 of the Gartner event. Also, let me know how your IT organization is making strides to becoming more influential than controlling.