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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?

Agile is only one side of the coin. Every enterprise is moving to become more nimble, adopting emerging technologies such as cloud, mobile, artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as agile and devops principles to shrink development cycles. But with everyone rushing to embrace these tools and practices they cease to be a competitive advantage. "We need to be good at the other side of the coin and that is the ability to anticipate. Agility is an ideal strategy for unpredictable change. Anticipatory is the way to turn change into opportunity because you can see it coming. Act on change before it happens and solve problems before you have them. If it can be done it will be done and if you don't do it someone else will."

“Your position as the CIO or IT leader has never been more important or more vital,” Burrus said. “How you view the future shapes how you act in the present and how you act in the present shapes your future. In other words, your future view will determine the future you. Right now our future view is a rearview mirror, it's not a windshield with bright beams. Your job is to create your future based on where we are going."


What CIOs think of ‘anticipatory IT’

Burrus' points resonated with CIOs who attended the keynote.

Matthew Lasmanis, CIO of GlaxoSmithKline USA, said that GSK took its own shot at disruption by becoming the first pharmaceutical company to abandon the industry practice of paying health care providers to endorse the company's products publicly.

"It's not about us delivering technology platforms; it's delivering technology that creates value by being able to predict change," Lasmanis said. "It's a core part of how I think about being a CIO and how I think about the technology I deliver as part of the organization."

Dr. Pepper Snapple CIO Tom Farrah said Burrus’ presentation is another shine on how CIOs can use technology to change the way a business achieves its outcomes. “That's what he was talking about when he was talking in terms of being forward looking and trying to predict the future,” Farrah said. “Technology is a means to make it happen but it's not about the technology it's about the business outcome.”

By way of example, Dr. Pepper Snapple has transformed its direct sales and distribution model for getting beverages to retail partners by digitizing and automating the order-taking process. The company is continually refining its order and sales systems with AI and ML to generate recommendations and provide other information to sales representatives that is “contextually relevant,” a key aspect of being anticipatory.


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