There is a suite of IT power multipliers that CIOs must adopt to create new opportunities for sustainable growth while investing responsibly, enhancing an organization’s brand, reinventing work and creating cyber resilience; some of these force multipliers need to be run with colleagues from CIOs. That was the message from Gartner Distinguished Vice President analysts Tina Nunno, Paul Proctor and Kristin Moyer during the keynote address at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Monday.
Gartner Vice President Val Sribar opened the keynote by highlighting the importance of digital and said 89% of executives in Gartner’s global governance survey say digital is now embedded in all of their business growth strategies. “Digital acceleration is now a priority for the entire executive team,” said Sribar.
The role of the CIO has also expanded, with 83% taking on strategic, non-IT leadership roles. “Digital has become a team sport and the entire executive team is playing,” he said. “You, the CIO, must be the digital head coach; that is your most important leadership role.”
Digital and growth calls to action
A global Gartner CIO survey shows that digital-leading organizations expect 3x more growth, Moyer said. Investors want growth, environmental and social change, she said.
“This is where CIOs can influence change. They can do this through sustainable growth,” which is repeatable without incurring additional financial debt, Moyer said.
This means more than financial results — it’s about growth that positively contributes to society and is ethically, responsibly and environmentally sustainable, she said.
By adding IT to the mix, “IT for sustainable growth is a series of digital investments that deliver repeatable, financial results in an efficient and responsible manner,” said Moyer.
Proctor suggested that organizations “revolutionize work” by technically empowering their workforce to create sustainable work performance, as great talent is even scarcer than finding talent.
He also advised CIOs to encourage responsible investment, saying that “stakeholders demand products that at least do no harm. Companies that provide responsible and sustainable products have a competitive advantage.
CIOs also need to implement resilient cybersecurity to build durable protections that support business outcomes without burdening them. This, he said, is IT for sustainable growth.
IT forces multipliers to achieve sustainable growth
Nunno states that 79% of all employees consider technology essential to their work, while 75% consider improving their digital skills important for business success. IT is both the epicenter of the talent crisis and the solution, she said.
New data from a Gartner survey of job seekers found that one of their top three pain points is “annoying or cumbersome application technologies or portals.” As a result, many dropped out of the application process, turned down a job offer or wrote a bad review about the company, Nunno said.
In addition, employees who are satisfied with their corporate IT applications are twice as likely to stay in their organization, which has a huge impact on retention, she said.
“Workers with all the technology they need are less fatigued, have a greater intention to stay,” and perform better, Nunno said. But only one in three say they have all the technology they need to work effectively.
This creates a huge opportunity for CIOs, Nunno said, noting that Gartner predicts that by 2025, 50% of IT organizations will have developed a digital employee experience strategy, team and management tool, which is a big increase from 5% in 2021.
“Become the employer of choice,” Nunno said.
Gartner identifies friction when the work is unnecessarily hard. A force multiplier is to identify and “relentlessly eliminate” the friction points in the work, she said.
Another power multiplier is to invest aggressively in AI augmentation. “If we want to create sustainable performance, we need to rethink our relationship with productivity. Stop focusing on productivity and focus on impact,” said Nunno.
AI augmentation is another power multiplier because it can increase your employees’ impact by expanding their reach, reach and capabilities, such as decision-making, she said.
Another IT force multiplier is to experiment with the highly visible, highly hyped technologies, because barriers to innovation create friction, she said.
Nunno suggested that organizations should experiment and innovate in difficult economic times to stay ahead. “The organizations that do this publicly attract the best new pack members,” she said. “Find room in your budgets to be daring.”
TO SEE: How CIOs can defend against IT budget cuts (TechRepublic)
For example, many organizations struggle with hybrid work, which Nunno says is detrimental to corporate culture. It’s a myth that corporate culture only happens in the office. “Culture happens in an infinite number of digital spaces and experiences.”
She added: “Technology is the new epicenter of corporate culture.” Your ability to dynamically change the hard code of your culture is a measure of your ability to innovate, Nunno said.
One potentially useful innovation for hybrid work is the intraverse, an emerging virtual office concept that incorporates metaverse technologies to bring employees together in immersive meetings to collaborate, connect and innovate, Nunnos said.
“Imagine how your employees would feel even if you invested a little bit in new immersive technologies and let them experiment and find new ways to make an impact,” she said. She advised CIOs to “be a little bit dangerous with advanced technologies” to attract and retain the kind of talent who want to stay ahead.
Enable your workforce to deliver sustainable results
Responsible investing is a two-for-one deal for achieving sustainable growth and results, Moyer said. It delivers financial and sustainability results at the same time.
The next phase of digital will amplify sustainability outcomes, she said. Sustainability increases our digital maturity, and digital increases our sustainable maturity — a virtuous cycle, she said.
For example, it was noted that if you invest in AI for route optimization to reduce costs, you also reduce greenhouse gases at the same time, which is a two-to-one investment.
Force multipliers that are two-to-one include intelligent connected infrastructure. An example would be a bridge that warns of sleet at 100 feet, Moyer said.
Another power multiplier is autonomous procurement, which she compared to “online dating for suppliers, without all the hassle.” Autonomous sourcing uses AI, machine learning and natural language processing to access a wider range of suppliers and automate the process.
The final power multiplier here is digitally reducing power consumption. Gartner predicts that digital technologies will reduce 10% to 20% of the carbon emissions needed to limit global warming by 2030, she said.
The caveat, however, is that this requires putting the business on an “energy diet” and taking it to the next level digitally. Start with IT and optimize compute and storage usage and include energy efficiency in your choices, Moyer said.
“Move more to the cloud, but make sure the cloud helps more than hurts, because some cloud data centers use coal while others use renewable energy,” she noted. The same goes for AI: make sure it helps more than hurts .
Create resilient cybersecurity
Proctor told the audience that “You get hacked every day” and that resilience should be a business model that treats resilient cybersecurity as a business problem, not a technical one.
The first power multiplier is to manage your attack surface with external attack surface management to orchestrate all actions and investments in the software supply chain. This will help you discover any external vulnerable assets, Proctor said.
Use software composition analysis to understand the flaws in your software supply chain, he advised.
The second power multiplier is to prioritize the most important business outcomes and the most critical technical dependencies by identifying the dependencies.
The third power multiplier is using results-oriented metrics and protection-level agreements to decide how much security you want and how much you want to spend. This makes security explainable to boards and stakeholders, he said.
“Consider investing in security as a competitive advantage,” said Proctor. “Protecting your brand makes you a preferred employer and supplier of choice.”
He advised the public to stop investing in security tools and start investing in security outcomes.
“Choose the technologies that match your organization’s ambitions and risk appetite,” says Proctor. Also, as CIOs you need to show your leadership and vision, he added.
“Work with your leadership colleagues to use force multipliers to help your organization realize IT for sustainable growth,” said Proctor.
Moyer summarized the actions to deliver IT for sustainable growth and emphasized that CIOs must revolutionize work by creating an IT-enabled brand. Make IT the epicenter of your talent strategy, she said. Deliver resilient cybersecurity to create a long-term competitive advantage.
“You are the ultimate power multiplier. You… will deliver IT for sustainable growth,” she said.
One way to create cyber resilience is to manage your cybersecurity risk:this TechRepublic Premium security risk assessment checklist can help.