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Welcome to the 2012 Gartner Symposium ITXPO: Orlando

by Mark P. McDonald  |  October 21, 2012  |  3 Comments

It’s October.  It’s Orlando.  It must be time for Gartner Symposium.  This year’s event represents a pivotal time for CIOs and IT particularly as the world makes the transition between a focus on IT and a broader focus on Technology.   The Nexus of forces (Cloud, Mobile, Social and Information) is a focus of the event, but there is much more to technology than just new things you buy and stick into the infrastructure.

IT is coming off of a decade of devaluation , where the primary question CIOs had to answer was

How to manage the cost of IT?

CIOs face a future with a fundamentally different question:

How will technology support growth and success?

Growth in terms of top line, net new growth as well as capturing greater share.  Growth in terms of supporting expanded customer and constituent experiences. Growth that comes from being different in ways that matter.

CIOs support growth by implementing amplifying technologies that extend the reach of your signal and transform the customer experience.   They create success by using technology to digitally disrupt the competition and create new sources of customer value and company revenue.

Technology, not IT! This is a critical difference IT solutions like ERP, CRM and the like automate the enterprise with a focus on consolidation and cost.  Technologies such as mobile, social, big data and cloud are fundamentally different than IT.  These technologies amplify performance and strategy.

2012 began a pivotal three years for CIOs and IT. CIOs face a future that requires them to move:

From cost to growth,

From automation to amplification,

From IT to Technology.

CIOs need to re-imagine IT internally but also change the way we manage, model and work with technology.   That will require CIOs to take action on three imperatives that are the subject of Gartner Symposium – FOCUS, CONNECT and LEAD.


Focus is the future.  There will be too many things to do, but too few resources to do everything.  Doing everything has been the CIOs mantra and definition of success based on the idea of ‘more for less’.  It is a trap that

CIOs need to maximize the return on their resources as managing to your budget epitomizes the description of a non-essential back office function.  CIOs continue to hold onto things, some in the belief that budget equals importance, but more need to ask themselves the following question …

“If you are doing something that someone else can do,

then something that only you can do is not getting done.”

What is the only thing that you can do?  Is it the only thing that you should be doing?  It boils down to a simple response – the customer.

Customers represent the singular focus for Technology as it bridges the gap between revenue growth and cost cutting.   It takes courage to be customer focused  particularly as the scope of customer experience is expanding.  CIOs and IT executives need to recognize that decisions regarding customers and markets are a significant driver of IT cost structures.

Create focus by applying new tools for setting your strategy, identifying critical technologies as well as the actions and decisions that might detract from performance.


Connections create new capability.   Each of these lightweight technologies is ‘worth less’ on its own and worth the world when it is connected.   Imagine a mobile app that only works on your phone, a social network of one, or analytics about a single event and the link between connections and capability becomes apparent. Gartner calls this collection of technologies the nexus.

Success in the nexus requires creating new connections between everyone in the organization. Mobile, Big Data – Analytics, Social and Cloud create an incumbent’s dilemma for CIOs and IT as the right short term decisions lead to the wrong long-term results.  One of those connections is in your approach to digital technology where digital combination is more powerful than digital substitution.

Connections will turn IT infrastructures into digital platforms incorporating more than transaction processing.  Connections incorporate intent, information and innovation  to deliver contextual, concurrent and comprehensive value.   That fundamentally challenges CIOs and IT leaders and their attitudes toward legacy resources.  With the right connections, today’s legacy can become tomorrow’s gold mine  for every organization.


Change requires leadership.  The role of the CIO as leader has never been more important than in times of structural change and transition.  As the world moves from applying digital technology in support of process automation to amplifying the enterprise with digitally based value proposition.  This means that

Technology is going public, becoming readily available and easy accessible which changes the nature of IT, the nature of the IT organization and the nature of IT value.  CIOs are increasingly being expected to create an experience rather than an expenditure because executives have unprecedented choice and they can spend my money with anyone.  How CIOs present choice makes all the difference in the world.

The leadership challenge facing CIOs manifest in the increased involvement of Marketing in making technology decisions, shadow IT and consumerization.  This requires making IT lean and more agile.

Leadership requires connecting activities with results because results are what the business wants and expects from their investment in IT.

It is time for IT to get SMALL, small in the sense that it delivers a continuous stream of value, is more agile and represents that business value exists more in a mosaic than a monolithic enterprise solution.

Recognize that most IT organizations have lost their small project muscle and need to get it back.

CIOs are lightening the depths of shadow IT in the way they lead by collaborating and coopting rather than control.

All of this requires transforming the way we think about and measure value – in other words we need lead in new ways and lead with new metrics.

FOCUS + CONNECT + LEAD = 2012 Gartner Symposium ITxpo

The issues facing CIOs and IT leaders are building in significance as challenges to the future of IT incorporate business value, results and capability rather than IT cost.  If you are fighting an IT cost battle, you have to ask yourself is the reason we are talking about cost is because IT value is no longer credible.   Nowhere is this more apparent than in the way people thinking about digital technology .

We need to find new answers to these new questions and that means it’s an excellent time to meet in Orlando – looking forward to seeing you here.

Category: 2013  amplifying-the-enterprise  cio  customer-experience  digitalization  lean-thinking  management  small-it  strategic-planning  technology  

Tags: 2013-planning  cio  cio-leadership  cio-strategy  it-and-business  strategy  strategy-and-planning  symposium  technology-leadership  value-of-it  

Mark P. McDonald
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

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