The third era of enterprise of IT has arrived – the era of digitalization – according to the results of Gartner’s annual CIO survey, and many heads of IT are concerned that their organizations are not ready to face the future. The Gartner study, released last month, surveyed more than 2,300 CIOs in 77 countries and found that 51% of CIOs are worried that the digital rush is coming faster than they can manage and 42% don't feel that they have the talent needed to face the changing IT landscape.
Digitalization refers to converting information and data into digital format. Conducting business in the digital era involves making use of digital assets and capabilities to improve efficiency and better serve clients through digital channels and communities.
"2014 must be a year of significant change if CIOs are to help their businesses and public sector agencies remain relevant in an increasingly digital world," said Dave Aron, Vice President and Gartner Fellow in the CIO Research group. "If this transition succeeds and CIOs and their businesses 'tame the digital dragon,' massive new value for businesses can be created, and with it, a renewed role and greater credibility for the CIO and the IT organization.”
The digitalization trend has been around for a while to some extent (e.g. the dying print industry), but as more and more consumers and clients change the way they interact with the digital world, businesses are being forced to adapt like never before.
CIOs have noted that digitalization is wide in scope and falls beyond the walls of their company. Digitalization is shaping all areas of business: smartphones and tablets; cloud technology; social media; and other “smart” products such as car navigation systems, watches, printers, etc. Companies that cannot adapt will find themselves lagging behind those that have found ways to build effective digital operations.
Another phenomenon that many CIOs discussed with Gartner was the growing duality to their department’s role within their companies. Where IT was solely viewed a necessary cost center whose goal was to keep systems up and running, IT is now shifting into a leadership role as well thanks to digitalization. Companies need digitalization to permeate all areas of their business, from marketing to product development. As such, many are looking to IT for leadership.
2014 will be an exciting year for CIOs – one of challenges and opportunities. Building and implementing digital strategies will require multidisciplinary collaboration, financial resources, and a willingness to adapt – something that some companies simply cannot offer. But for the CIOs that are given the tools and range needed to create a digital business, they have the opportunity to shape the future of their company and industry.
2014 and beyond will also be an exciting year for consumers as they’ll benefit from innovative and exciting new products coming to market as companies digitalize their products. Enhanced smartphone features, groundbreaking gadgets, and timesaving devices are likely on the horizon, and we have the digitalization era to thank.