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5 Imperatives for Digital Success, from the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2019

By MRS on Sunday, June 9 2019

Through sessions led by visionary speakers, industry experts and cutting-edge technology providers, the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo™ provides inspiration and insights to help business leaders excel at digital transformation for their organizations. Core topics at the symposium include technological innovation, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, information security, data and analytics, cloud and much, much more. In 2019, for the first time, the event was held in Canada, taking place close to home for MRS at the Beanfield Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

During the “ContinuousNext” opening keynote, distinguished VP Analysts at Gartner, lead by Chris Howard, to a crowd of nearly 1,000 CIOs and IT leaders, laid out what they believe are five imperatives to achieving digital success in the future. We found this to be especially valuable and worthwhile to share as, through our interactions with clients and discussions around the industry, we are consistently hearing these topics spoken of more and more.

1. Privacy

2018 was the year of numerous high-profile data breaches. From the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal to the data leaks of 500 million Starwood/Marriot customers, several high-profile organizations were in the crosshairs for mishandling sensitive consumer data and gravely jeopardizing their privacy. As such, the way the average consumer feels about privacy has significantly shifted. Today’s consumers are far less willing to offer organizations their information, sacrifice their data and jeopardize their privacy simply for added convenience or for the benefit of a free service. In addition, governments are taking action to legislate how organizations handle data with privacy laws such as GDPR. This means that privacy is undoubtedly now a C-suite/board-level issue, with significant implications on customer/public relations and ultimately the bottom line for a company.

Howard sites one of the basic tenets of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) – “Once an organization collects data, that organization is now fully accountable and responsible for its protection” – and argues that principles like this must be designed into new business models.

“Once an organization collects data, that organization is now fully accountable and responsible for its protection…principles like this must be designed into new business models”

2. Augmented Intelligence

The prevailing notion – and fear – around the industry hot-topic of artificial intelligence (AI) is that it will lead to the inevitable displacement of thousands of human jobs. However, according to Gartner, for organizations that have adopted AI technologies, this simply hasn’t been the case. In the keynote, it was emphasized that the reality is that organizations are beginning to use AI not to replace humans, but to augment the work they’re able to do and to enhance their capabilities. By automating the most mindless and repetitive tasks, valuable human time and energy can be directed to more uniquely human strengths such as emotional connection and empathy – which computers are less able to emulate – and thus the potential of the human workforce is greatly amplified.

“Augmented intelligence relationships (are) putting workers side by side with advanced AI systems, and along the way, those jobs become more impactful and useful”

3. Continuous Modernization

Katherine Lord, an experienced VP analyst at Gartner, kicked off her segment on continuous modernization at the keynote by saying that, in her 29-year professional career, she can’t remember a time where there has been as much pressure to change as there is right now. Many of you may be feeling the same overwhelming feeling. Everywhere you turn, it seems, you are being bombarded with new technologies, innovations and approaches: digital, agile, mobile, bimodal, DevOps, AI, IoT, AI, cloud, cloud-native, AR/VR – the list goes on. Staying ahead of the curve and truly feeling like you are modernizing your business may seem daunting, but it is no doubt extremely exciting and exhilarating time as well – one that must be embraced and capitalized on.

The major theme of Lord’s discussion on continuous modernization – and why it is imperative for business leaders in order to achieve digital success – was legacy modernization. The time is ripe for organizations to strip themselves of legacy applications and infrastructure and truly embark on what Lord considers an infinite exercise of modernization. It is critical for organizations to invest in and manage the time, talent, cultural and funding constraints that goes along with this legacy modernization and get down to renovating the core systems of their business. The significance of this is amplified by the fact that new entrants to the workforce are part of a digital native generation where innovative technologies were at their fingertips and played a key role in virtually all aspects of their lives. To these digital natives, legacy, outdated digital applications and infrastructure simply won’t cut it and, for their organizations, will prove a significant detriment to employee productivity and workplace satisfaction. Businesses that embrace this will get ahead, and those that don’t will lag behind.

“It is imperative for organizations to invest in and manage the time, talent, cultural and funding constraints that goes along with legacy modernization and get down to renovating the core systems of their business”

4. Digital Product Management

Digital product management means taking digital transformation beyond just IT operations; it’s a different way of doing business and places digital technology at heart of relations between you and your customers and how your organization operates at every level. It is imperative to take a digital product management approach versus and a digital project management approach because the infusion of digital technology into your business is so much deeper than simply a one-off endeavor: it encompasses virtually everything you do as an organization.

For example, financial institutions are consistently modernizing and taking a digital-first approach to servicing their customers. We are witness to this first-hand as our client, FirstOntario Credit Union, is investing heavily in Microsoft Surface tablets and cloud-based applications to empower representatives with digital tools in which they can engage with customers on from remote locations and house important, sensitive customer information. Another one of our clients in the finance industry, TD Bank, is utilizing digital technology in an ongoing effort to become the “bank of the future” by implementing innovative banking applications and by providing greater ways for employees to interact with customers. As this approach to servicing customers in digital-first manner increases, as does the accumulation of data and sensitive information for these organizations, and in turn so rises the significance of advanced analytics and business intelligence, the importance of adequate privacy and data security controls, and so on. As evident in these cases, digitization is infused into virtually every aspect of a business, far beyond simply IT operations, and so it is imperative for organizations to have a holistic digital product approach as opposed to one-off, misaligned digital project approaches.

5. Culture

The final point is the imperativeness of instituting the right culture to enable digital success to flourish. In fact, the keynote noted that nearly half (46%) of CIOs identified culture as the largest barrier to realizing the promise of digital business. To overcome this, digital transformation leaders must be passionate in setting and portraying the vision for the future of the company to employees in order to truly maximize the likelihood of digital success. Employees must know and understand this vision and be wholeheartedly convinced of the benefits of realizing this vision in order for the company to strike digital success.

Watch the full keynote here.