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Driving digital transformation

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CIOs trying to lead digital transformation at the speed needed to succeed need a mix of three scale accelerators – digital dexterity, network effect technologies, and an industrialised digital platform.
At the Gartner Symposium/Itxpo in Orlando, Gartner analysts emphasised that scale is not just about size, it occurs up, across and out. Scaling Up allows for gaining efficiencies. Scaling Across quickly takes capabilities learned from one organisation into another, while Scaling Out interconnects internal and external platforms and ecosystems.
First Scale Accelerator: Digital Dexterity
Digital dexterity is about a new organisational design and a new talent mix for a new working environment — a high-performing digital workplace. Organisations must change internally to change externally.
“To scale, we need people with digital dexterity. People who are collaborative, agile, analytical, innovative and creative,” says Tina Nunno, vice-president and Gartner Fellow. “People who have both the ability and the desire to exploit existing and emerging technologies for better business outcomes.”
A digitally dexterous culture requires three building blocks:
Technology
Engagement
Diversity
“It’s time to build your technology for user experience and double down on experiential skills, such as design thinking, guided navigation, and a/b testing. These all become your go-to tools,” says Leigh McMullen, managing vice-president at Gartner. “Invest in SaaS applications that make it easy for employees to do for themselves — things like data visualisation and application integration. Exploit virtual personal assistants to free everyone from low-value tasks.”
The second building block is engagement. “Make people and engagement the design center for your technology and your processes,” says Nunno. “For that we can use the science of behavioral change. For example, by using peer advocates, trusted influencers, and social norming, we get closer to creating the right employee experience.”
The third element to build a culture of digital dexterity is diversity. CIOs should look at exploiting diversity in all forms, such as diverse data, diverse talents, diverse suppliers, diverse backgrounds, and diverse cultures. “Diversity allows us to overcome all forms of bias to harness the power of the crowd and digital,” says McMullen.
Second Scale Accelerator: Network Effect Technologies
Network effect technologies transform the CIO’s work from making tactical technology decisions into building strategic platforms. This unique set of technologies creates virtuous patterns of growth, where waves of disruption build upon each other, exponentially. Three network effect technologies to focus on for 2018 include: the Internet of Things (IoT), application programming interfaces (APIs), and artificial intelligence (AI).
“IoT scales the physical world. IoT allows us to sense, measure and mediate everything from oil pipelines to human veins. It allows us to make better decisions faster,” Nunno says. “As the number of connected devices grows, you go from no information to abundant data. The network effect of IoT quickly converts individual objects into systems.
Nunno also explained the type of people to get the job done. She says: “Find people who are able and eager to embed all types of intelligence in IoT. Engage data management professionals to ensure you have diverse source data. Leverage the digital dexterity of citizen data scientists.”
While IoT scales the physical world, APIs scale relationships into ecosystems. They enable CIOs to easily connect partners, employees, and even competitors into a vibrant, webscale network that unlocks value for everyone.
“Value emerges slowly, and then it accelerates quickly as more participants are added to the ecosystem and new APIs are discovered and used. That is the network effect,” says McMullen.
With IoT scaling the physical world, and APIs scaling relationships, think of AI as scaling people. Gartner believes that AI will help people, not replace them. Certain jobs have been lost in every technology revolution, and new jobs have been created. AI is no different. Gartner analysts said the real potential with AI is the augmentation of people.
“AI’s best use today and well into the future will be to augment human capabilities,” Nunno says. “A human machine is smarter than either by themselves. The machine scales the person. The person scales the machine.”
Third Scale Accelerator: Industrialise the Digital Platform
The industrialised digital platform unleashes the digital dexterity of your workforce, and it unlocks the potential of network effect technology. To industrialise means using a digital platform to create new digital market places.
“The beauty of the industrialised digital platform is that it enables you to create value in all directions at scale: up, across and out,” Nunno says. “Value creation used to be one directional: from the organisation to customers. Now value creation can scale in all directions, from anyone, anywhere.”
Organisations will need to set their digital ambition by determining what kind of organisation they want to be. Without digital business ambition, organisations just have a collection of projects.
Next, CIOs should build on their legacy systems. They should combine their modernised legacy applications and their digital platform for massive integration complexity on a massive scale. They should integrate their platforms internally, as well as with external ecosystem partners. Integrating externally is key because top performing CIOs expect to double the number of important ecosystem partners they have during the next two years.