Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2022 Opening Keynote: IT for Sustainable Growth

Michaël Renotte I 10:30 pm, 25th November

CIOs are leading in a world that is deglobalizing, economically disrupted and facing a greater range of threats than ever before. The executive challenge is how to turn these risks into business opportunities. During the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2022 opening keynote, taking place on November 7 in Barcelona, analysts Mary Mesaglio, Daniel Sanchez-Reina and Ed Gabrys, shared three key ways in which CIOs and IT executives can use information and technology to lead and make a difference for their enterprises.

To drive sustainable growth in turbulent and uncertain economic times, CIOs should use digital investments that deliver repeatable financial and performance results in an efficient and responsible way, according to the firm. This is what Gartner calls IT for sustainable growth. Analysts said that CIOs can use IT for sustainable growth by focusing on three strategies – revolutionary work, responsible investment and resilient cybersecurity.

CIOs should revolutionize work by tech-enabling the workforce to create sustainable performance. Organizations should responsibly invest to deliver both financial and sustainability outcomes. According to Gartner analysts, stakeholders are demanding products that, at a minimum, do no harm, and grant competitive advantage to enterprises that can prove that they deliver responsibly and sustainably. Lastly, organizations should implement resilient cybersecurity to deliver sustainable protection that supports business outcomes without constraining them.

Revolutionize Work

"IT now matters more than ever in the recruitment, retention, employee engagement and high performance of all enterprise employees, not just IT. However, a new Gartner survey found that only 31% of employees said that they have the technology they need," said Mary Mesaglio, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner. "This provides a tremendous opportunity for CIOs to make the difference. Employers who revolutionize the work and empower their workers with technology will become the employers of choice," she added.

Gartner identified three force multipliers that CIOs should focus on to help make their organization an employer of choice and to create sustainable performance for the enterprise:

Take the friction out of work: Friction is when work is unnecessarily hard. The more friction points an organization has, the worse employee performance and retention is. By removing friction and investing in digital skills, organizations can create a more engaged workforce that is better equipped to sustain future performance.

Invest aggressively in AI augmentation: To create sustainable performance, organizations should focus on impact instead of productivity. Employees need tools and technologies that empower them and increase the impact of their work. AI can increase the impact of employees by extending their reach, range and capabilities. The workforce of the future is AI-enabled. 

Experiment with the highly visible and highly hyped: Organizations that innovate during tough economic times stay ahead of the pack. Technology is the new epicenter of corporate culture, and one area for innovation is in digital spaces and experiences. For example, an intraverse is a virtual office that incorporates emerging metaverse technologies to bring employees together in immersive meetings to collaborate, connect and innovate. Gartner predicts that immersive meeting technologies will not plateau on the Gartner Hype Cycle for 5-10 years. Organizations that experiment with technologies early on the Hype Cycle curve will attract talent who want to stay ahead of the pack. 

Responsible Investment

"Responsible investment is a 'two for one' strategy for achieving sustainable growth and returns. It delivers both financial and sustainability outcomes. By sustainability, we mean environmental, social and governance," explained Daniel Sanchez-Reina, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner. He also told the CIOs that "responsible investment matters for the people that are important to your enterprise. Employees get the opportunity to make a difference. Customers get solutions that align with their values. And investors get a more attractive investment."

Gartner identified three force multipliers that will create both a financial and sustainability return:

Intelligent connected infrastructure (ICI): ICI is like an air traffic control system for ports, bridges, roads and airports. ICI combines mesh fabric, AI, IoT, cloud, analytics and edge computing to share data. Investing in ICI is a force multiplier because it can increase growth for cities and businesses and improve lives for citizens. "Infrastructure used to be silent, but ICI gives it a voice," said Daniel Sanchez-Reina.

Leverage autonomous sourcing: Autonomous sourcing uses AI, machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) to give organizations access to a much wider range of suppliers. Autonomous sourcing is a force multiplier because it can increase efficiency and improve supplier sustainability at the same time. 

Digitally reduce energy usage: CIOs should use cloud, data and analytics to establish what is called "base load". Base load is information on how much energy the enterprise has consumed. Gartner advises CIOs to implement an energy and optimization system (EMOS) to reduce energy usage by making proactive, data-led decisions in near real-time. EMOS can reduce energy usage from 4% to 15%. "Use a microgrid combined with AI and ML to reduce energy costs and make money by selling energy back into the grid," suggested Daniel Sanchez-Reina. 

Resilient Cybersecurity

"A 2022 Gartner survey of board directors found that 88% of boards now view security as a business risk, not a technical one. This means that organizations need to start treating resilient, sustainable cybersecurity as a business risk that needs new types of investment," said Ed Gabrys, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner. "Protecting your brand makes you an employer of choice and a supplier of choice to your customers. Protecting your execution supports sustainable growth," he added. 

Gartner identified three force multipliers to deliver competitive advantage for organizations in the long term:

Manage the attack surface: Gartner recommends using external attack surface management (EASM), a process governance and management technology, to discover vulnerable external-facing assets; implementing software composition analysis to gain visibility into software supply chain vulnerabilities; using threat intelligence to prioritize and fix vulnerabilities. 

Protect business outcomes and customers: According to Ed Gabrys, organizations should prioritize their most important business outcomes by identifying their technology dependencies that have a direct line-of-sight to their most important business or mission outcomes. By using this business outcome approach, organizations can prioritize systems that support sustainable growth, such as manufacturing, sales and citizen engagement. 

Use outcome-driven metrics (ODMs) and protection-level agreements (PLAs): PLAs enable organizations to make business decisions over how much security they want and how much they want to spend. Gartner is benchmarking 16 ODMs which organizations can use to compare their protection levels to their peers. This creates an outcome-based priorities and investments roadmap. "Organizations should invest in achieving protection-level outcomes, not the implementation of tools," said Ed Gabrys.

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