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What is ‘anticipatory IT’? An IT strategy for staving off digital disruption

Clint Boulton | Aug. 31, 2017
Anticipating future opportunities based on hard and soft trends is a crucial weapon in helping CIOs stave off digital disruption. Does your organization have what it takes to commit to an ‘anticipatory IT’ strategy?

Hard trends include the fact that employee demographics will skew younger as Baby Boomers retire and cede the workforce to Generation Xers and millennials. It makes sense for CIOs to leverage these trends to drive innovation. Rather than eye younger employees with distrust, CIOs should "cherry pick" some and loop them in to senior-level meetings. That will empower and inspire millennials to help drive the company forward.

Another hard trend is that industries will become more regulated. Burrus pointed to how Tesla CEO Elon Musk has capitalized on regulations to grow his multiple companies under the banner of efficient energy solutions. "Every single business he got into he used government regulations. He's played that regulation card, why don't you? If you spend a little more time looking at regulation you can see amazing opportunity," Burrus said.

Soft trends include the assumption that retail sales will increase over the next year and that it will become increasingly difficult to attract talent. The good news? Soft trends can be applied to hard trends to trigger change and CIOs should look to do so where possible. Hard trend: Cloud, mobility, analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain can enable companies to transform their business processes. The soft trend question: Will your company transform its business processes? Ultimately, by understanding the differences between hard and soft trends CIOs can more accurately understand and predict future disruptions and identify and solve problems before they happen, Burrus said.

Other key points:

When the cost of "no" is greater than the cost of "yes." You've all seen this movie. A CIO identifies an opportunity and appeals to the business for money to drive it forward. But the CIO who admits to his C-suite that the outcome is uncertain struggles to get the budget to proceed. Burrus says CIOs should identify and articulate the impact of NOT implementing X, Y or Z. "Go in with hard trends and help them to know the price of no is far more than the price of the yes. Certainty gives you the confidence to make bold moves and write a big check. Uncertainty does not."

Opposites attract more sales. Burrus also encourages CIOs to take a leap into the unknown. For example, he said FedEx could disrupt the logistics industry by abandoning shipping fees and instead leveraging the data it collects from sensors tracking its packages. "You have to get enough people to use FedEx shipping to get enough data to make it worth more than charging them to ship. How do you do that? If all shipping is completely and totally free they will make a lot more money. Similarly, he suggested that a drug company could charge based on patient results instead of the medications it sells. "If you charge for results instead, what happens? You create an ecosystem that's committed,” Burrus said. "It's a game-changer."


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