Reflections from Gartner’s ‘Lead 360 - Drive Digital’ Symposium

By David Lennon Managing Partner

In recent weeks, a number of us from the Business Aspect team attended Gartner's IT Symposium on the Gold Coast. I enjoy taking part in this event as it’s a great opportunity to touch base with Gartner analysts, explore what the future digital platform looks like and meet executives across a mix of industries. 

I thought it was interesting that Gartner’s central 'Lead 360' theme focused on how the CIO’s role must evolve and how leadership is critical to taking digital to the core of the organisation. By thinking, acting and leading change in multiple directions, CIOs can perceive what others can’t. Certainly the pace of digital transformation is increasing dramatically and for CIOs, this means that items that were pegged for future consideration could now be a project for next year.

I would call out three themes that were dominating conversations in terms of their disruptive potential for our clients. The Internet of Things is now mainstream - sensors are in everything. Artificial Intelligence has started to break through, and its impact along with Virtual and Augmented Reality, will be no less profound. Finally, blockchain is starting to change the world of transacting.

These emerging trends offer new ways to create digital sources of revenue and it would be wise for IT leaders to embrace the opportunity - and the challenge - of harnessing these technologies that appear to have made the rapid leap from cutting edge to main stream.

Trend no 1: Internet of Things
The IoT is sweeping across all industries and organisations, offering new opportunities to create value, ranging from incremental improvements to existing operations all the way to digital transformation. 

Over the years, Business Aspect has delivered value for our clients through a range projects focused on the IT/OT convergence and IoT in some ways is an evolution of this. However, the symposium emphasised that IoT will go from being a progression from the IT/OT story to becoming a foundation of the digital society - influencing healthcare, energy grids, agriculture, connected homes, transport and supply chain. 

IoT is changing businesses now. It provides a basis for transformation across many industries and CIOs and CEOs need to be thinking about the implications for their organisations - and their competitiveness and efficiency.

Trend No. 2: Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not new. Variants have been around for 10 years or more. But AI is now starting to creep into real-world business, at least in a narrow way. The discussions at the symposium recognised that ‘general AI’ is still to arrive (except in the movies), but we need to start thinking about the implications.

As AI moves into more parts of society and industry, questions start to be raised. What regulations are required when technology is playing the role of a human (including thought processes)? How do we treat a robot that is a customer as an active participant in society? How do you treat a robot in your CRM? What does a world look like that includes widespread deployment of social robots, collaborative robots, drones, and self-driving trucks? All with AI as the ‘engine room’.

Key takeaway – general deployment of AI may be some way off, but CIOs cannot ignore the role that it will play in the transformation of business in the future.

Trend No. 3: Blockchain
One buzzword that I heard every hour or two was blockchain.  Simply put, blockchain is a type of distributed ledger that allows consumers and suppliers to connect directly. It’s gaining traction as it provides a proven and effective way to add trust in untrusted environments. 

At its heart, it’s a way to remove the dependency on a trusted intermediary - like a bank.

If you were wondering how mainstream this has become, check out this recent announcement from the CBA - like a  number of banks they are dipping their toes into the blockchain pool. 

Business Aspect is currently working with clients on applications underpinned by blockchain and we see this as an area that will gather momentum over the coming months. Everyone needs to be thinking about this.

How you adopt IoT, AI or blockchain to increase agility, responsiveness and realise new digital revenue streams extends across all our service offerings in ICT strategy and planning, to business process innovation, to cybersecurity and risk offerings, and beyond. Whether you are dipping your toe in the water or taking the plunge, CIOs are central to the future growth of their organisations through leveraging these technological developments.

Exciting times!