Most businesses deal with major technology developments by waiting - and learning - from early adopters.
But analyst firm Gartner says CIOs must take a more agile approach to dealing with the rapid succession of digital business disruptions.
“CIOs can best help the enterprise survive and thrive through digital disruption by urging the CEO and business leaders to adopt a deliberate strategy,” according to Gartner analysts Leigh McMullen and Dave Aron.
In a recent research paper, the two analysts provide five possible strategies organisations can take:
Offense: “Acquire or build capabilities that feed into a digital business. This requires significant investments and a strategy for success.”
Defence: “Sell off conventional businesses to free up capital and management attention for digital business.”
Destruction: “Offer services or capabilities for free to grow the number of customers to which premium services can be offered.”
Self-disruption: “Change from a conventional to a digital business before competitors force the issue.”
Serendipity: “ Build basic technical capabilities and platforms on top of which the enterprise or ecosystem partners can build digital businesses.”
The 5 deliberate strategies for digital disruption (Source: Gartner)
McMullen and Aron call on CIOs to buy from technology and service providers that will help the organisation conceive and create a digital business.
They note: “Most providers claim to offer ‘digital’ or ‘digital business’ solutions, but they are just using these buzzwords to sell you conventional IT pieces. Instead, choose providers that will help you think out how your idea for digital business should be executed.”
They also cite different waves of digital disruption to prepare for.
One of these is the combination of AI, IoT and blockchain that will “create a perfect storm”.
“Blockchain’s ability to support peer-to-peer microtransactions, combined with the intelligent decision-making ability of AI and the sensory powers of IoT, will create never-before-possible businesses,” they write.
CIOs are thus advised to educate the CEO and other business leaders about AI in order to understand the strategic implications of this set of technologies.
Many AI applications have achieved mainstream adoption, they report, so enterprises must decide which AI applications to invest in based on their particular industry.
Middle management also has to be reoriented on the way they cultivate talent as the success of these technologies depends on it.
“Today, middle managers spend most of their time performing industrial-era functions such as quality control, cascading directions from above and reporting on work performed,” the report states.
“In the digital era, middle managers need to hire workers who are agile learners and technically proficient, and they need to give those workers the freedom to create solutions to business problems on their own.”