Kathy Gibson is at Deloitte Tech Trends Africa – There has never been a time when the role of the technology leader has been so pivotal in shaping the future of organisations.

That’s the word from Kevin Govender, CIO programme leader at Deloitte Consulting Africa, releasing the results of Deloitte’s Global Technology Leadership study.

The survey, which polled technology and business leaders around the world showed that all stakeholders are on the same page when it comes to using technology in the business.

In 2018, 64% of technology leaders aspired to be busines co-creators, by 2020, 69% of them expect tech leaders to inspire change.

Technology vanguard companies are those that that include a clearly defined vision and strategy, and they deliver higher business performance, Govender points out.

A scant 11,6% of respondents fall into the vanguard category – but the stock prices of these companies have accelerated by more than 7% over the last three years.

Govender adds that tech leaders are being called on to server as kinetic leaders – a super-charged change instigator, pursuing transformation while ensuring resilience.

But how do tech vanguards outperform their competitors?

They focus on customer and growth, says Govender. Technology leaders have to wear the innovation hat, which means being forward thinking, helping to innovate, and focusing on disruption.

Tech vanguard drive growth by prioritising innovation and customers. A massive 66% of them focus on customers, 53% n growth, 44% on innovation, and 20% on cost.

They engage in technology as a strategic investment. CEOs see CIOs as the key driver of busines strategy in the next three to five years.

Hans van Grieken, Deloitte’s EMEA technology research & insights leader, says the tech leader’s mandate has moved to be more business relevant.

Change is of paramount importance in their role. And we don’t believe incremental change will get them anywhere.

Change orientation is the most important tech leadership trait for the future – and yet more tech leaders still aspire to be business co-creators.

“The vision for the future is about change, and about being change instigators,” Van Grieken says. “And 69% of respondents characterise this as a major behaviour trait.”

Kinetic leaders are those that are fully engaged, from vision to execution. Tech vanguard CIOs see themselves as visionaries, but also as partners rather than advisors to the business

They know what is happening, they have a strong sensor capability to the outside world. They know what is coming and translate that to business value.

They are also able to do testing, growth hacking, prototyping, to prove the business value of technology.

That means that, contrary to the past, the future is even more blurred – so you have to build an agile environment, where you can constantly try things out.

Tech vanguards are agile, but also ensure that the agility drives value.

Govender stresses that CIOs need to lead beyond the tech domain, and this means focusing on creativity, cognitive flexibility and emotional quotient (EQ).

Rethinking talent, skills, learning and collaboration beyond technology becomes profound. This leads to innovation: because in order to be innovative, you need to be creative, he points out.

Today’s business leaders focus more on developing and acquiring talent than tech leaders do – 31% versus 16%.

Embracing an agile mindset across the enterprise, tech vanguards are better at agile adoption, and also quicker at driving agile change.

Kinetic leadership is about reimagining and reinventing the business, helping to reshape the organisation to the new normal, Govendor says.

In the past, organisations were built to last 100 years but, with the increasing rate of change in the world, it is important we don’t build organisations to last, but to evolve.

Deloitte’s Tech Trends for 2020 highlight the macro forces driving change in the world.

Deloitte points out that the enablers are digital experience; analytics; and cloud. These are still relevant but not new. The foundational elements are the business of technology, risk and core modernisation. Disruptors are digital reality – manifested as digital twins; cognitive computing – our ability to predict, prescribe and augment information, and platforms.

Into the future, Van Grieken predicts we will see ambient experience – technology that understands the context in which people live and react; exponential intelligence; and quantum computing.

Human experience platforms are being used by leading organisations to create systems that recognise a user’s emotional state and the context behind it.

When it comes to finance and the future of IT, there is a tremendous gap between the language of the tech team and the chief financial officer (CFO).

As enterprise become more agile companies are exploring new approaches to budgeting, contracting and capital planning to fuel innovation.

In the traditional model, there tends to be a one-year budget with defined programmes and cost centres that pay for the use of applications. The budget is in concrete, and you cannot really change and adapt

“But as you move to agile, you talk about value streams, end to end customer journeys and processes with owners that live in the business not the tech side,” Van Grieken says. “In some instances you have to cater for failure – because with failure we earn.”

For most companies this is a big topic. In the current Covid crisis, companies that had already catered for flexibility were much better able to adapt to the new workplace.

In the future, companies are exploring new approaches to accounting, contracting and capital planning to fuel agile innovation and usher in a new, flexible approach to enterprise finance.

There are different dimensions to his discussion. So companies are exploring new routes to find funding.

Architecture awakens is a topic that resonates with many organisations today, Van Grieken says.

Established companies with legacy systems have begun to move architects out of the silos and into the trenches.

Their goals is to create the kind of architectural agility needed in the new environment.

The role of architects is moving away from technology to business as well, becoming collaborative and engaging agile problem solving, prioritizing guidance over governance, with direct and maximised business impact.

The opportunities for change are driving agility and speed to market, and architects are becoming more accountable for solutions outcomes.

Another tech focus for the future is that of digital twins: bridging the physical and the digital worlds.

High fidelity digital simulation combined with IoT sensors and machine learning are presenting a host of new opportunities, optimising operations, autonomous decision making and new business models.

Applications include simulation new sources of data, interoperability, visualisation, instrumentation and platforms.

Ethical technology and trust is the final leg of the Tech Trends

Leaders who align tech ethics with organisational values – and apply than across the investment lifecycle – are demonstrating a commitment to doing good.

The four pillars of trust are ethics and responsibility, privacy and control, transparency and accountability; security and reliability.