The New Economy heralded the age of new giants. Ebay and Amazon are two winners who found success by ingeniously combining new technology with old. Now, after almost ten years, we could be on the brink of a new golden age for technology. Will this be a renaissance in IT?
“Today, we are at the threshold of what could be a new age in IT,” according to Mark P. McDonald, Group Vice President at analysts Gartner in his webinar on the subject. In his Gartner Executive Program Survey, he asked over 2,000 CIOs for their opinions. Many of them have seen a number of changes: Mobile applications, new possibilities in business analytics and Big Data, social media, and the cloud.
Below is how the prioritized technologies rank individually:
- Analysis and Business Intelligence
- Mobile Technologies
- Cloud Computing
- Modernization of Legacy Applications
- IT Management
- ERP Applications
Hunting and harvesting
Gartner analyst McDonald has reviewed the data in depth, and his analysis is clear: Whether they mean to or not, CIOs have a decisive say in the success of a company. Not, however, in the sense of installing a CRM component and introducing new systems. That was yesterday. Instead, they now “hunt and harvest” as Mark McDonald at Gartner likes to put it.
McDonald is referring to the hunt for new business models, gaps in the market triggered by digital changes, and the innovations that can be leveraged by combining old and new technologies – just like Amazon and Ebay succeeded in doing. The key question that CIOs have to ask themselves is no longer “How can I help us to be more efficient?” but rather: “How can our company grow with technology?”
A new way of thinking is called for – virtually a reinterpretation of the role of the CIO. Essentially, CIOs are well prepared: 65% know that IT departments in their current form will no longer exist by 2020 at the latest – in fact, 40% expect such change to happen within the next three years. Around half are already preparing themselves for the idea that they will no longer run a department that offers a service to the company, but one that will directly contribute to the success of the company.
The CIO of the future
Most CIOs see Big Data and analytics as the most important subject, closely followed by mobility, cloud computing and collaborative networks. A whole range of new technologies are coming together, which when combined offer huge potential that could transform companies into game changers.
The CIO occupies a key position, and is the only person in the company who can introduce and tap into these new technologies. As the expert, not only does he or she need to have a complete overview of the company, but must also be on good terms with the decision-makers. By embodying both of these elements, the CIO has moved from being a service provider to the key strategist in the company – the CIO of the future. This is also reflected in the study: Number one in the list of CIOs’ priorities is to help bring about the general growth of the company. Next in the list is to help bring about operational efficiency, and to reduce costs throughout the company.
The successful CIO
What does a CIO need to be successful? “He needs to be fit for business” according to analyst McDonald. If the CIO does not have a head for business or an eye for operational innovation, he will not be able to bring his technological expertise to the table. “And he needs to be a good communicator,” McDonald adds “with the ability to clearly outline how opportunities can help operational efficiency.”
Next page: The CIOs’ 10 business priorities
The Gartner study clearly shows the critical importance of both qualities: It revealed that only 43% of all companies use the potential of new technologies. There is still vast potential to be tapped.
Below is how the CIOs ranked their business priorities:
- Increase growth
- Secure operational results
- Reduce costs
- Win new customers, and keep existing ones
- Improve IT applications and infrastructure
- Create new products and services
- Improve efficiency
- Motivate employees
- Implement analysis tools and big data
- Tap into new markets
Are we on the brink of a renaissance in IT? “It appears that technology and those responsible for technology within companies have never been as important to the success of the business in the last ten years as now,” says analyst McDonald, and continues: “In fact ‘renaissance’ does not go far enough: The IT world is on the threshold of a phase that could be as decisive for IT as the age of enlightenment was for humanity.” If CIOs can now grasp this opportunity, they can become critical players in the strategy of their companies.