Remember bimodal IT? That's so 5 years ago. In 2019 and 2020, "TechQuilibrium" is the new bimodal. Research and consulting firm Gartner introduced the new term in a keynote address at Gartner IT Symposium in Orlando, Florida this week.
Just what is techquilibrium? It's maybe a more evolved form of bimodal IT. Think of it as a horizontal line with traditional IT on the far left and digital transformation on the far right. Your balance between these two sides is your techquilibrium. Gartner defines the term as "a technology equilibrium point that defines how digital an enterprise needs to be to compete or lead in a digital society."
That point will be different for each industry and each enterprise, according to Valentin Sribar, senior research VP at Gartner, who introduced the concept and led off the keynote address. For instance, oil and gas aren't as focused on the digital side as, say, retail is right now. But that's ok.
"Techquilibrium can help create balance between the complex disruptions and many extremes that organizations are facing today," Sribar said. " CIOs should partner with their executive teams to design a value proposition that drives the right mix of traditional and digital business. When you reach this balance point, you have reached your techquilibrium."
However, most organizations need to keep accelerating into digital, Sribar said, "because the further you are from your industry's point of techquilibrium, the more likely you will be disrupted."
As you put the pressure on to move more towards digital, the road won't always be straight and narrow. There are three forces that are creating uncertainty and change that could throw you off balance -- geopolitics, economics, and digital giants.
In geopolitics, Gartner is predicting that organizations will have many different clouds for different geographies that align with local and regional taxes, tariffs, data sovereignty and privacy rules, and other regulations.
In terms of economics, Sribar said that many economists believe we are headed into another set of economic downturns. Your enterprise's response may dictate its success or failure for years in the future. For instance, Sribar pointed out that those enterprises that invested and broke away in 2008 were well ahead of those that did not invest. If one market is contracting, it may be time to invest in a new future market for your organization.
Tina Nunno, Gartner research and advisory VP, told attendees that if they haven't already, it's time for CIOs to complete the move to become strategic leaders.
"The entire enterprise is now primed for it," she said. But often, CIOs are not thought of in those terms. A Gartner self assessment survey of over 15,000 CIOs and IT leaders found that only 18% are considered a trusted ally by the board of directors. Another 31% are consulted by the board only on a transactional basis or when there's a risk involved. Another 41% are only consulted for occasional input, Nunno said.
To become that trusted ally, CIOs must pivot and go on the offensive by leading the business when it comes to technology strategy and engaging in more communication with the board. Don't say yes to everything the business wants because they don't know if it is hardened or secure enough to handle the job. Nunno said that IT leaders should shift from defensiveness to defending the enterprise, even from itself.
Customer experience is another important component for enterprises as they move towards a more digital business.
Gartner research VP Don Scheibenreif said during the keynote that today's "Everything Customer" wants everything now, and they want it to be effortless. To move in that direction, many organizations that deal with consumers directly are creating additional channels, such as voice assistants like Alexa, to help serve customers better.
"Organizations need a technology platform that will bring these well-designed experiences to life. Gartner calls this the multi-experience platform," Scheibenreif said. "Using building blocks from the digital business platform, the multi-experience platform delivers consistent experiences across multimodal touchpoints. Your phone, internet, clothes, watch, virtual assistant, and refrigerator will all be able to interact with you, the Everything Customer, anytime, anywhere."
But all this technology can present ethical issues as well, and if organizations want to earn customer trust, they need to pay attention to how they manage data. Mbula Schoen, senior principal research analyst at Gartner, said three things are needed to balance value and the responsible use of data.
They are "solid information governance, providing real value based on data so that people can see how sharing data can benefit them, and providing more transparency and control to gain trust," she said. "Organizations can also implement a societal value proposition which focuses on building a business out of improving our digital society."