Kathy Gibson is at Gartner Symposium in Cape Town – Digital transformation has impacted the entire enterprise, and winners are those that can constantly adopt to change – that can live in the Continuous Next.

“How will you rise to that challenge?” Mike Harris, executive vice-president: research at Gartner, asks delegates at Gartner Symposium.

Gartner says Continuous Next comes from adding mindsets and practices, then multiplying technology. This equals capabilities, which in turn leads to results.

“The transition to digital is undeniable and accelerating – disrupting business models, and the way organisations create and deliver value,” Raskino says.

He points out that business leaders have to anticipate change, and leverage new technologies to achieve it.

“Because the creative use of technology defines leaders,” Harris says.

In fact, governments realise that digital infrastructure is as important as physical infrastructure when it comes to attracting investment.

“But this means business models must change – and this where Continuous Next comes in.”

He cites the example of a skein of geese in their migration, which uses the techniques of shape, shift an share to make it more efficient.

“You face significant obstacles as business and IT leaders. But we believe if you focus on the culture and skills issues, the rest will follow.”

Gartner shares five key imperatives that are key to helping companies achieve Continuous Next. They are culture; privacy; artificial intelligence (AI) or augmented intelligence; a shift from project delivery to product innovation; and digital twins.

Culture is vital, Harris says. Change has been ongoing and is stressing employees.

“IT needs to ask if they are part of the problem. New systems have the best intentions, but there are thousands of applications in the field. This has a real impact on productivity.

“In fact, the cost of stressed employees and reduced productivity is greater than many IT budgets.”

So which organisations are most likely to succeed?

Gartner analysed 13 000 organisations and looked at their enterprise technology adoption profile. It found that the most successful organisations are overwhelmingly dynamic.

“Measured organisations can achieve top performance, but success is less likely. The strongest determinant of success is dynamism – the ability to adopt technology in a new way.”

Getting people ready for more aggressive technology adoption is harder than bringing in new technology. “We can’t change the need to change, but we can help employees to adapt,” Harris says.

This means that social skills are more in demand.

Garter believes there is a changing demand for skills. Today, social creative skills account for half of the people needed, and this is more pronounced in IT. Going forward, social creative skills will be more than half the demand.

This will lead to more collaborative leadership, Harris says

“So we need to get people working as a team, while changing the team dynamics through technology.”

The second imperative for Continuous Next is privacy

“Privacy is funnelling through to become a fundamental human right,” Harris says.

“Increasingly privacy and trust are power. And that power is shifting.”

Marketing organisations are rethinking how they use customer data; and there is rising scepticism among consumers. In fact, for the first time, consumers are not about to give up privacy for convenience.

“As the CIO, you have a mandate to maintain data privacy.”

This typically means having someone in charge of a data privacy programme, Harris adds.

In fact the fines could be as much as some IT budgets, he points out.

Blockchain’s distributed ledger system could be one solution, along with advanced analytics and AI, Harris says.

When it comes to AI, another imperative for Continuous Next, there is some confusion in the market.

Companies that have not yet adopted AI believe there will be job losses from it.

“But those that have adopted AI technologies have seen fewer job losses than expected,” Harris adds.

“With augmented intelligence, workers’ jobs are becoming more impactful, more meaningful and more rewarding.

“We have to prepare the workforce for a new future, where workers are not doing rote-repetitive work.”

The impact of AI will vary from industry to industry, Harris adds

“Creative use of technology differentiates leaders: I am amazed at some of the AI technologies that are already being seen,”

AI is a broad range of technologies that include making things easier, getting people and machines working together, and advancing the digital ecosystem.

Robotic process automation is one way that AI is improving the way machines talk to each other, eliminating some of the process steps that used to be done by people.

The CIO is likely to be the initiator of AI in the business – and here may be some risk associated with this,

“The technologies learn from their teachers – so choose your teachers well,” Harris says.

“Done right your organisations will be exemplary – in fact, AI will help you become more dynamic and establish the organisation as a leader,. Along the way you can significantly address the culture.

“This is a once-in-a-career opportunity – seize it.”

Digital product management is another imperative for CN.

Mark Raskino, vice-president and Gartner Fellow at Gartner, says the new world of digital products needs a new way of management.

“That is core to CN – and it you don’t start now you may never catch up.”

Adoption of product-centric delivery has doubled in the last two years and will double again.

Gartner predicts that by 2020, three-quarters of digital business leaders will pivot from project to product-centric management.

Amazon is a tech company in the retail market; Tesla is a tech company in the automotive markets; and Apple is a tech company in the health arena.

“Digital product management supersedes IT project management, Raskino adds.

Projects are now a secondary consideration, while products are prime, he says..

“With projects we were delivering, with products we are owning; with projects you were backstage, with products you are on the stage.”

DPM focuses on the intersection of the business, the customer experience, and technology.

Digital product managers deliver innovation at scale for companies and customers.

“Every industry is having its products digitised,”

DPM requires deep changes in mindsets and practices, Raskino adds. “The change will be a big one for IT executives, but it will be empowering.”

He recommends that companies shape their environment by designing customer-centric digital products and services; then shift by hiring external product management expertise; and share DPM learning as it evolves by creating blended business and technology teams that own digital products and services.

“Your organisations’ future growth will depend on applying a formula of digital project management to speed you on your path to CN,” Raskino says.

Digital twins brings this to life, explains Helen Huntley, research vice-president at Gartner.

She calls this a digital twin organisation (DTO). “Digital twins are now so much more robust than what we started with and AI is making them more sophisticated.”

Companies can create digital twins of their organisation that include non-physical things like processes, interactions, and the way people perform their jobs, Huntley says.

Companies are starting small with DTOs, then building process maps that monitor and optimise operations. These can then be scaled and shared.

“DTOs give you insight you never had – and it’s continuous insight that allows you to operate more efficiently and effectively.”

She advises companies to get to DTO using he shape, shift, share mantra.

Shape by identifying critical but ineffective process; shift thinking by applying DTO to one process or location at a time; then share continuous intelligence across the organisation

“DTOs are always on, always learning, always changing, always giving you the intelligence to get to CN,” Huntly says.