Mark Raskino

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Mark Raskino
VP & Gartner Fellow
12 years at Gartner
27 years IT industry

Mark Raskino is a vice president and Gartner Fellow in the Executive Leadership and Innovation group of Gartner Research. Mark researches CEO priorities and attitudes to IT and major business technology trendsRead Full Bio

At our “CRM” event I’ll suggest marketing will be disrupted again, this time by the internet of things

by Mark Raskino  |  April 24, 2014  |  1 Comment

Recently I have been developing the keynote for Gartner’s annual “CRM” Summit event in London. I place CRM in quotes because though this event has been running many years  - it isn’t actually called that any more. It is called the Gartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit.  Personally, I like that title because for many people the term CRM connotes only one stage in a longer technological journey that marketing is on.  At the event, I’ll be introducing some of Gartner’s thinking about Digital Business and how it applies in the context of customers and marketing. Gartner now defines digital business as:

The creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds.

That points to another massive wave of creative change, coming to those who work at the interface between technology and marketing.

I’m old enough to feel nostalgia when I watch Mad Men. When I joined the workforce in the mid 1980s, the marketing leaders I met were raised with the thoughts and ideas of the swaggering big brand advertisers of the 1970s. It was all about TV and bigger was better. Hiring movie directors and spending more than anyone before, was the way to win. Here’s an example. But in those days, the intersection between information technology and marketing, amounted to not much more than a couple of Apple Mac computers, used to review print ad graphics from the agencies.

Then came two massive waves of technological change to marketing.  First, in the 1990s came CRM, which emerged because technology advances made it possible to store and analyse all of a customer’s transactions in large databases, drive conversations via direct mailing and call center technology and actively manage aspects like loyalty, customer lifetime value, cross selling and up selling. Second, in the 2000s came digital multi-channel marketing. The explosion of the web and email as interaction mediums, then supplemented by social and mobile – have given marketers a dazzling array of possibilities. There is still a huge amount of new innovation and value to come from those opportunities, but the next major wave is already here and it won’t wait.

The internet of things is upon us. It isn’t the future anymore. These products already exist:

  • A capsule coffee machine that automatically sends its status to service engineers.
  • A tennis racquet that measures every hit and transmits the data to a tablet app.
  • A car with an app that allows you to ‘precondition’ it remotely before you get in.
  • A set of bathroom scales that can  tweet your weight.
  • An electronic cigarette that can detect others vaping the same brand in the vicinity.
  • Ski goggles that can show you where you buddies are on the slope.

Most of these things are sold by big brand companies you know, not just experimental start-ups. The richness of interaction and understanding that marketers will gain, from products that report on their state as they are used and consumed in the physical world, will be like nothing we have seen before. Today, Netflix can know precisely when people switch from viewing a program on TV to viewing on Tablet. Your company can know how long it takes between when a web page loads and when people first click  on it.  But those are things happening in the weightless, virtual information world. Soon, that kind of primary data understanding will come to the world we touch and hold and carry and sit on and kick. Marketers will understand how people live in enormous detail, discover new unmet needs and learn how to serve those needs better than ever before.

Once more, marketing as a discipline will be completely revolutionized by a new wave of information technology – this time from sensor and actuator enabled, wirelessly connected smart physical products. It is going to be quite a ride.


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Our 2014 CEO survey found many say D, but think E

by Mark Raskino  |  April 14, 2014  |  3 Comments

Last week we published the Gartner CEO and senior business executive survey.  This is an annual global survey of over 400 of the most senior business executives at large companies. The findings are quite rich and detailed. Gartner clients can read the main report here.  When I’m asked to net out some of the top findings for this year, I point to three things:

  • Growth is a very high priority for CEOs – rising vs costs again year over year, showing the strength of business leader confidence to go out and win new customers and revenue.
  • CEO mentions of IT related matters as a business priority, are at the highest level we have seen for over a decade
  • But CEO understanding of digital business, is lagging.

CEOs now see technology – especially in the context of the D word: ‘digital’ as an important way to win growth, as economies rise again. CEOs are keen on investing in IT and digital, but we also see a risk that they will direct the investment mostly towards older ideas and a market lagging agenda. By old, I mean things that could have been in an “e-business” strategy circa 2004.

Capabilities like e-commerce and online marketing have now become mainstream and many companies  find themselves needing to catch up. They have done a bit of both for years – but only now are they taking those capabilities seriously, as the main way to get the fastest part of business growth.  Beyond that, copying the web experience into a coupe of  mobile apps to spice things up, isn’t going to take them to the next level.

CEOs should be starting work on the next set of major disruptions too, because technology is accelerating. Some CEOs will scrabble hard to catch up the 8 to 10 year gap they left open, between when the last major tech enabled business idea arrived in their industry and when it really started to bite.  However, they might only get 3 to 5 years until the next major shift  hits their markets hard  - and that clock has already started counting down.

Our survey found that less than a quarter of CEOs  appreciate what digital business is really starting to mean – as a world of mobile enabled, smart products emerges to form the internet of things. They must start pursuing  that agenda now. If they are still catching up with the old e-business stuff, it’s going to be a hard ride.



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Why it might be time to gracefully retire “digital native”

by Mark Raskino  |  March 27, 2014  |  6 Comments

My conversations with Gartner clients over the last few months have usually centered, one way or another, on the big shift to digital business and how to organize for it. The interactions are usually with C-level business and technology leaders and their senior management reports, in conventional companies that are trying to become more digitally engaged and progressive, quickly.

Often, the inevitably middle aged senior leaders quickly reach for the solution of bringing more young people into the mix to help drive change. They have learned and they often repeat the term digital native.  ”we need more digital natives – those younger people who were brought up with this stuff” – someone says, then everyone nods. Hmmm, is it really that easy to solve your problem? Haven’t we heard that story before?

The term digital native was coined by Marc Prensky in 2001. So it’s a thought from the height of the original dot com boom. In fact he was using it to refer to the problem teachers were facing in schools, trying to teach kids who were exposed to modern technology and whose thinking and learning patterns, and expectations, were changing. At that time the issue was the PC web – which was only a few years old.

However, 2014 is the 25th anniversary of the invention of the web.  Those middle aged business leaders have been using it personally for something like 15 to 20 years. I’m 51 – but I find it hard to remember quite what an average working day was like pre-Google, let alone pre internet email.   When I travel, I see many baby-boomer senior business leaders in airport lounges – plugging in their tablets, and checking their smartphone apps. In those same airports I see them thumbing Wired magazine and lusting after the coolest digital gadgets like Sonos home sound systems, Tesla cars and Oakely Airwave augmented reality ski goggles.  Those items are not cheap – so that older age group must be  the biggest part  of the target demographic. Those travelers then go home via their Uber pickup, to their middle aged spouses who tell them all about what friends and family are saying on Facebook, while flicking through tonight’s viewing options on Netflix and browsing Twitter. They’ve adopted an awful lot of stuff into their every day lives in the last 5 years – for such clumsy, bumbling old-timers – don’t you think?

Being far too old to be a Presnky cohort digital native, didn’t stop Steve Jobs (born 1955) and Johnathan Ive (born 1967) from creating the iPad or iPhone you might be holding in your hand right now. So why would you, as a powerful middle aged senior leader, believe that “only the kids” can move this stuff forward in your company?  It seems to me there’s a fine line between belief in youth as a powerful and distinctive enabler, and just trying to shove the issue away from your own personal set of responsibilities because you want to wriggle out of it.

Yes, there are some new digital things out there that only the young people are experienced in – because those things were designed specifically for them. Grown ups don’t use Snapchat much. On the other hand, the global professional recruitment industry is being disrupted by LinkedIn – and that was never built for kids ( it was created by by Reid Hoffman – born 1967 ).  Even if you think that significant digital innovation only originates with very young professionals in the first few years of their careers – their inspiration needs a lot of support and deep, deep understanding from older leaders, to help it thrive. Eric Schmidt of Google was born in 1955.  Jeffrey Immelt, who is making a huge bet on the “industrial internet” at GE, was born in 1956 – and I doubt the engineers building it for him are all fresh-out-of-college twenty-somethings.

Digital technology is now a deep and pervasive part of the lives of almost all age groups in society.  As a leader you have to own your share of the responsibility for moving the agenda forward in your company.  Too many people are saying “digital natives” as part of a  smart-sounding sound bite, that is actually masking an an intent to do little about the digital change themselves.

Here’s my bottom line. The term digital native was very powerful in its time, but if its primary use these days is as an excuse for middle-aged, middle-management inaction – maybe its time we retired it.





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Two new data officer appointments confirm the main trends but challenge another

by Mark Raskino  |  March 5, 2014  |  2 Comments

This week I have noticed two new major Chief Data Officer (CDO) appointments, showing that this C-suite trend is continuing to progress steadily. We do not believe it’s a fad. As enterprises slowly recognize the centrality of information to their business strategies and the need to manage it as an asset, the requirement for active, executive level management becomes obvious.

  • One of America’s biggest banks, Wells Fargo, appointed Mr. A. Charles Thomas as its CDO – an action significant enough to warrant a short article by Wall Street Journal technology editor Michael Hickens.   This CDO reports to the bank’s CIO.
  • The City of San Francisco revealed that Ms. Joy Bonaguro has started work as its CDO.   Aptly for this digital age, the news came via  a tweet from its CIO.

Several trends are confirmed by these appointments:

- Most CDO appointments are in the United States. It does happen in Europe and elsewhere, but its still heavily US dominated.

- The top two industries creating true CDO roles are banking and government.

- Women are highly visible in this role. About a quarter of CDOs so far, are female. That’s double the percentage in the CIO population.

However one trend is being challenged. Up to now, we have noticed nearly all the CDOs in the US are on the East Coast – and mostly within three cities: New York, Washington DC and Boston.   These two major appointments are both located in San Francisco.  It appears that the #1 tech state is starting to get the CDO idea too.

Is your organisation considering creating a true (C-level of thereabouts) chief data officer role? We have been tracking this for a couple of years. We have a detailed job description template and other useful research reports to help you get the rationale and the scoping right first time.



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Hype cycle visualization reveals some insights on the state of technology

by Mark Raskino  |  February 17, 2014  |  2 Comments

Recently I returned to one of my amateur hobby projects: data visualization.  The dataset from all of Gartner’s published hype cycle reports, is a good size to play with. There are over 2000 technology profiles, tracked and updated by Gartner analysts early in the second half of every year.  If you can show all that data on screen at the same time, some patterns jump out.  There are at least three major observations I can see in the 2013 data:

The technology pipeline is full.
All the way back to the trigger point on the left side of the curve, our analysts are tracking many new technologies. There is no sign that the information technology world is running out of innovation (sorry Tyler Cowan – I’m just not seeing a great stagnation here)

The technology flow is fairly even
I have been tracking our hype cycles for many years. There are times when some parts of the cycle get a bit thin, while others are fuller. That tends to create slowdowns and speed-ups in pressure on companies to adopt new things. Right now it would appear that the flow is fairly constant, whether you are an early, mainstream or late adopter.

Very few technologies die
We often point out that after the hype, few technologies really die. It is true that many emerge from the trough of disillusionment only to find narrow, niche markets.  That may disappoint fans and investors who got overexcited early on.  But nearly every technology eventually finds some use. (Note: the hype cycles track technologies, not individual products or companies). On the chart below you can see this observation as a lack of red bubbles  - where our analysts are calling “obsolete before plateau” .





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When 30% of mainstream company news is tech-related – it’s going to be an important year for CIOs

by Mark Raskino  |  January 16, 2014  |  Comments Off

Wednesday January 15th 2014 was a classic dull, grey, wet day across the UK – as seen from my airplane window, on a day trip from London to Glasgow. The flights gave me the luxury of time to properly read a proper, high quality broadsheet newspaper: the Financial Times.  The FT has a major section every day called ‘companies’ where its writers provide analysis of what’s going on in the corporate world.  Here’s an interesting thing:  11 of the 34 articles, had at their core, the issue of IT and digital change to business models, industries and markets.

Here are some of the issues:

  • The emergence of  ”Zapp”- a smartphone app payment system, being built by Vocalink – an entity created by a consortium of 18 UK banks.  Zapp hopes to fend off threats from other players in this hotly contested area of future banking.
  • The news that one of those potential players – Square – is valued at around $5Bn, after some shares were privately traded.
  • Private equity partner firms considering the IPO of an online travel company they have stitched together from multiple acquisitions – including “Opodo” – a company originally founded by a consortium of European airlines during the dot com boom.
  • Alan Mulally – CEO of Ford, reported saying that “personal mobility” is at the center of the company’s strategy thinking. In the industrialized world, young people are becoming far less interested in driving and car ownership. That is in part because the internet, mobile and social give them such freedom of personal interaction without movement.
    It is also because electric, self driving and digital media service vehicles will fundamentally transform our relationship to cars, and thus the selling propositions for them.
  • ASOS, the highly successful UK based but internationally operating online-only fashion retailer, announced revenue growth of 37% in just 4 months.
  • But Debenhams – a major traditional UK department store had a poor Christmas holiday season – with financial and retail sector analysts remarking that it may be “behind the curve” with its online offering.

January 15th wasn’t a special day. You can expect to see more and more of this kind of industry change and disruption news, as the era of digital business heats up. Tech-related structural change is set to be a major topic of boardroom conversation this year and next. CIO’s should make sure they are well informed, broad thinking and ready to give a business strategy opinion – if they are invited into the conversation.


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From CIO to CEO – holiday gift ideas to inspire digital thinking

by Mark Raskino  |  December 16, 2013  |  Comments Off

At this time of year I am busy co-writing our annual CIO resolutions report and analyzing the early data returned from our new annual CEO survey.  It made me think about the relationship between the two roles and what kind of tech gift might inspire a bigger conversation in 2014.   Here are some ideas that I came up with – what others would you add?

For the transportation and logistics CEO a drone.

After the Amazon “Prime Air” PR – it just has to be a drone doesn’t it?  Playing with one might help a business leader get a better sense for the idea. There’s the easy to use, app controlled, Parrot AR Drone.  Or you might splash out on something more professional – there are now plenty of quad copters  and octo-copters, offered for use as camera platforms to the TV and movie industries.

For the CPG CEO – a 3D printer

By now everyone has seen this technology in the press or on TV, but maybe your CEO hasn’t experienced one in action, up close.  The power of what a cheap consumer 3D printer can do is awesome – so it’s a bit like introducing a 1979 CEO to the Apple II microcomputer.  Pick one from the may consumer 3D printers but also point him to the Porsche website , where he or she can download a file and print out a Caymen S model as a starter project.

For the fashion industry CEO – a connected smart watch

Wearables are definitely going mainstream and the first smart-watches are already out there.  Are they too ugly? Do they do anything useful?   Can you start carrying your phone in a less accessible, hidden pocket now?  It’s just one of those things I expect you have to wear for a few days to get a true opinion on.  There are plenty to choose from –  browse smart watch news

For the Insurance Industry CEO  - Oakley Airwave ski Goggles

The internet of things is coming. It doesn’t just change the game for product companies – it creates many “business moments” of opportunity.   These ski goggles connect to an iPhone, track your skiing movements and relay them into a head mounted display.  There’s a multi-button wrist controller to connect the two devices. Imagine the moment of adrenaline and fear, staring down an almost-too-hard off piste run. Now – shouldn’t an insurer’s logo be on one of those controller buttons?

For any information-based  industry CEO – a very large UHD (4K) TV

You’ve got data – BIG data – but maybe it’s not being properly exploited. It’s an unseen asset. Why not generate some killer art-style data visualizations and pop them on a memory stick and show them on one of these fantastic screens, mounted on the wall  in your CEO’s office waiting lounge area.  8,294,400 pixels, sure can display a lot of data-points.

For a health industry CEO – a gift basket of different personal health sensor devices

There are so many personal and wearable smart health sensors these days – for weight, pulse ox, cardiac rhythm, blood pressure, glucose, physical activity etc.  Many integrate with smartphones to help people gamify and change their personal health habits. Make sure your CEO is fully aware of progress.

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Great CIOs identify the great IT endeavor of their time

by Mark Raskino  |  December 4, 2013  |  Comments Off

I’m often asked whether the CIO should report to the CEO and why.  About 40% do;  the majority don’t – even in this digital age when tech seems so important to everything.  Looking back at the last 15 years or so, I think it’s quite clear that CIOs usually report to CEOs when there is a “great” IT mission in play.  If there isn’t one, then IT is more of a maintenance function making sure business-as-usual runs smoothly – and that might not warrant the CEO’s frequent attention.

A great IT endeavor is one where a technology based change to the business is going to have a multi-year, material affect on financial performance. That means either the revenue or the profit of the company is impacted in a way the investors will notice and care about. There have been many of these great endeavors – some of them quite general purpose and multi-sector for example:


But often the great endeavor is industry specific.  And sometimes an industry can have a fallow period where there is no obvious IT great endeavor. For example I spent many years in airline IT, where over the decades there have been a number of great endeavors that had huge bottom line implications:

Distribution systems
Revenue management
Frequent flyer programs
Schedule and reschedule optimization
Web direct selling
Airport self-service

Most of these things were capable of moving the profit margin of an airline by a couple of percentage points – with serious financial performance and competitive effects. But it’s hard to see a new thing of quite such scale in the airline industry right now.  Giving crews tablets  is cool – but it won’t be big enough to move the share price of a large airline ( e.g.  “IPads Help Airlines Cast Off Costly Load of Paper In the Cockpit, Navigation Charts Go Digital; American Sees $1.2 Million in Fuel Savings” ).  I have no doubt something really big will arise again for airlines, from some combination of newer technologies: mobile, social, cloud, data science, robotics etc. ( if you know what that thing is – let me know ).

This week we all saw the video from Amazon, suggesting that one day soon battery powered, autonomous octo-copters might bring goods to your door. Others have already had that idea – like the Dominoes pizza “Domicopter“. Perhaps “drone delivery” is a new great endeavor in the making, for a generation of transportation and logistics CIOs.  Reports suggest experiments of some kind have probably been undertaken at UPS and FedEx. From such ripples, massive industry progress waves arise – as we are seeing with the arrival of e-cigarettes in the “tobacco” industry.

Every CIO should ask himself or herself:  what is the *great* endeavor in my industry, in my time. If it isn’t in play yet, is it coming soon?  If it hasn’t been invented yet – could my team be first?  


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“Every company is a technology company” – more and more evidence..

by Mark Raskino  |  November 28, 2013  |  Comments Off

The quote in the title of this post comes from  Peter Sondergaard‘s section of the Gartner Symposium keynote 2013.   I just keep on seeing more examples that show how it is true. This week I noticed 3 news stories that provide more evidence.

Argos Digital Store
Reuters reports that Argos is introducing “digital stores”. Argos is a major UK home goods retailer, that for many years has operated an unusual catalog shopping in-store model. Now it is doing away with paper catalogs and replacing them with tablet based versions.  Take a look at the picture – perhaps this is one way store based retailers can compete with Amazon.

Old_Street_1 (1)

Marlborough maker to introduce an e-cigarette in 2014
The Wall Street Journal reports that PMI – the manufacturers of Marlborough and other big brand cigarettes has announced it will enter the e-cigarette market next year.  It will be joining Lorrilard, BAT and others who have already responded to the rapid growth in this category that has been largely developed by start-ups. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just an “electrical” product. Lorrilard’s “blu” brand already has wireless and social features. Digital innovation in this area will become very lively indeed.

Coca Cola and Target are setting up technology incubators in India
The excellent online news source Quartz reports that these major US firms are investing in tech firms in India to help generate digital business ideas and opportunities.

The definition of a  ”tech” company has been changing for several years. Many companies that apply information technology to serve a customer need have been categorized this way by the business media and the investment community – even if they don’t sell technology. LinkedIn, Groupon, Twitter, Pinterest and others are seen this way. If non-tech firms start to apply information technologies directly in what they are selling – surely they are becoming tech companies too?  We must at least admit that the boundary is becoming very fuzzy indeed. Tesco sells its own Tablet called Hudl and has its own streaming movie service called Blinkbox, Nike makes and sells Fuelband, Nissan has declared that it will introduce a self-driving car (one might say ‘robot’)  by 2020.  Technology will become a central competency for many more  companies over the next few years.




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Another CEO declares: we will be a technology business

by Mark Raskino  |  November 20, 2013  |  6 Comments

This week I attended an interview presentation at the UK’s Institute of Directors ( IoD ) .  The interviewee was Simon Calver,  the CEO of Mothercare – a 52 year old British high street retailer with over 300 stores and $1Bn in revenue, specializing in baby and toddler care products for new parents.  During his talk, Simon said a number of interesting things but one quote stood out to me:

“First and foremost we will be a technology business”

He pointed out that the company already gets about 25% of its sales online  with a double digit growth rate, while its store business has low single digit growth.  No surprise then that he also said

“There’s no reason why we can’t think of that [online] eventually becoming over 50% – that’s an aspiration”.

Simon came to Mothercare from an online video rental company founded in 2002, which as CEO he helped sell to Amazon.  But he wasn’t always a guy. His career started in marketing and business operations at Unilever and Pepsi.  He also spent time at Dell. So he has a balanced view of both sides of the business world – the digital side and the traditional side.

Later in his talk he said: “Every retailer should ask themselves: ‘what would this business look like if it was over 50% online’ “.

I couldn’t agree more.  If  Mothercare has already reached the 25% tipping point – every company should take heed. But Simon was also careful to point out that he will

“Use the stores as competitive advantage in an omnichannel model”.

The key insight is that the stores and their staff can offer a service experience – for example measuring a mother to be for maternity bra,  or fitting a baby seat into car safely.

I am absolutely convinced we will hear many more traditional business CEOs declare  ”we must become a technology business too” over the next 2 or 3 years – and they won’t all be retailers.   The digital business revolution is well underway.

Simon Calver at the IoD November 2013

Simon (right) Calver at the IoD November 2013








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