Gartner 2017 CIO Agenda: Digital Ecosystems, Interoperability, Bimodal IT

Digitization, creating a new level of organizational interoperability, and the practice of bimodal IT are among the priorities for CIOs, according to the Gartner 2017 CIO Agenda. See how your IT priorities stack up.
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Does your IT strategy for 2017 include building a digital ecosystem? Is a new kind of interoperability -- one that brings together core and evolving technologies -- part of your IT roadmap? Is bimodal IT factored into your game plan?

If so, then your IT goals align with the 2017 Gartner CIO Agenda. While the report focuses on CIO priorities, its findings have resonance for any IT professional.

The 2017 Gartner CIO Agenda report is based on survey responses from 2,598 CIOs in 93 countries across all major industries. Collectively, survey respondents represent approximately $9.4 trillion in revenue and public sector spending and $292 billion in IT spending.

For the purposes of the survey, respondents were categorized as top, typical, and trailing performers in digitalization. Some 178 respondents are top performers, 2,166 are typical performers, and 171 are trailing performers. Gartner identifies top performers as organizations with digitization fully baked into their planning processes and business models.

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There's a significant shift underway in terms of where CIOs are opting to invest, according to the report, which was presented at the 2017 Gartner Symposium/IT Expo 2016, Oct. 16-20 in Orlando, Fla. But there's much more to it than simply following the money.

Let's start with the digital ecosystem. What's that all about? According to the report, "Gartner defines digital ecosystem as an interdependent group of actors (enterprises, people, things) sharing standardized digital platforms to achieve a mutually beneficial purpose."

What does that mean for the bottom line? "A digital ecosystem amplifies the reach of a company. It enables scalable connections between known partners and customers, but also provides a platform for unknown parties to connect with one another," said Andy Rowsell-Jones, research vice president at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "Ecosystems blur industry boundaries and give rise to entirely new kinds of companies, products and services."

To prepare your organization to function in a digital ecosystem, Gartner's report advises making interoperability the aim of your technology planning. According to the Gartner report, "A combination of core and evolving digital technologies enhances interoperability among digital ecosystem partners and supports the transition to ecosystem participation, especially in analytics, cloud services, digital market management and security."

Now, about bimodal IT. In a prepared statement, the research firm said, "Adoption of bimodal IT is key to the creation of a digital ecosystem-ready organization and this is an area in which enterprises are making progress. Survey findings indicate that, on average, 43% of respondents say that they are bimodal."

Not everyone agrees about the value of bimodal IT -- which involves managing two separate modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility. Earlier this year, Forrester published "The False Promise of Bimodal IT." In it, VP and principal analyst John C. McCarthy said bimodal IT does several things that are counterproductive for a company trying to move forward.

Among the most egregious? According to McCarthy, bimodal IT gives executives the comforting, but misleading, message that backend systems can be safely left as they are. Bimodal IT keeps significant portions of the IT infrastructure insulated from business units and customers.

While the analysts duke it out, Gartner's report finds that 68% of the top performers in its survey have adopted bimodal IT. In a successful bimodal discipline, the Gartner report says, "experimentation leads to scalable functionality that is serviced by, and eventually part of, the business capability and technology platforms. All respondents report nearly identical benefits as a result of bimodal adoption; however, top performers are more likely to report innovation as a result, a telling detail."

Beyond how IT operations are organized, the report explores a range of CIO spending priorities that align with the needs of a digital business. Survey respondents said they are spending 18% of their IT budgets on initiatives to support digitization in their organizations, a number set to increase to 28% of IT budgets by 2018.

Top performers are spending 34% of their IT budget on digital, and this figure is predicted to increase to 44% by 2018.

Business intelligence (BI), analytics, cloud services, digital market management, and security are among the top technology areas identified as spending priorities by survey respondents. For all but the top performers, enterprise resource planning (ERP) remains a significant investment.

Changing needs are heightening the perception of an IT skills gap. An average of 34% of survey respondents reported that information-related skills represent the biggest gap, especially those skills which are needed for the newest, most advanced analytics environments.

"The skills that have previously been applied to pre-digital diagnostic analytics are not sufficient for the new real-time data scenarios presented by the Internet of Things (IoT), personal analytics, operational technology and information ecosystems," said Gartner, in a prepared statement. "As a result, newer skills are in short supply and expensive."

Do the Gartner findings align with your IT outlook for 2017 and beyond? What's your experience with bimodal IT? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.