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Digital now the lingua franca of modern business: Gartner

Divina Paredes | May 19, 2014
Calls on CIOs and senior executives to jump start efforts to build digital capabilities.

"Digital business has become the lingua franca of modern business, a common and unifying language around the globe," says Partha Iyengar, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

"As enterprises prepare for an increasingly digital world, CIOs must learn to tap into technology expertise across organisations and business domains," he states.

In order to jump-start digital business activity, he suggests CIOs must identify key strategy players and possessors of technology, business expertise both inside and outside the enterprise. They also need to launch a digital business community of practice to enrich cross-business understanding.

"If the industry in question is being morphed by early digital business competitors, move quickly to find, deploy and use external expertise and work in parallel, not serially, on internal development and planning," says Iyengar.

"Bring in people from outside with the required knowledge, skills and competencies - some as external experts, not necessarily as permanent employees. CIOs who learn to orchestrate talent can take advantage of global ecosystems of expertise to build digital expertise quickly."

Demand is growing for insight into digital business, particularly among CEOs and CIOs who fear their companies may be falling behind new business models and competitive opportunities.

Gartner believes their concern is justified and that revenue ambitions will be unmet if CIOs and senior executives ignore the cultural and organisational challenges that accompany digital business.

It says digital business will concentrate almost exclusively on new sources of revenue derived from new products, services, channels and information for new customers and constituencies.

On top of the expectation that digital business expertise will spread around businesses within two or three years, other indicators suggest digital business represents not an extension of the past, but rather, a different trajectory.

"Digital business leaders agree that digital business is the equivalent of a big-culture technology, a technology that can afford a long-term competitive advantage, provided the business at hand can master the required cultural and organisational change before its competitors do," says Iyengar. "The normal pace at which businesses develop and plot out learning and assignments will not suffice. Speed, nimbleness and imagination are crucial."

Building the capabilities for digital business is a long-term change program, he says. Organisations should not underestimate the change magnitude of a digital business strategy or the importance of cultural and organisational change management.

 

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