Gartner Symposium Cape Town: It's still all about digital transformation

Brian Burke, research VP and chairperson of this year's Gartner Symposium in Cape Town (Karolina Komendera)
Brian Burke, research VP and chairperson of this year's Gartner Symposium in Cape Town (Karolina Komendera)

What are CIOs in SA most concerned about? According to Gartner, it is how they bring about digital transformation, at scale, to their organisations.

This year's Gartner Symposium in Cape Town will take a long, hard look at digital transformation, and how CIOs and IT decision-makers can bring about this fundamental change to their businesses.

According to Symposium chairperson Brian Burke, a 20-year Gartner veteran and research VP, his organisation first started speaking about digital business about four years ago, and while there was plenty of interest from IT leaders, many organisations report having found it difficult to implement.

Four years on, the message has, as he says, permeated the C-suite, and they're now demanding concrete answers, and plans, from the IT organisation on how it's going to be implemented.

Broadly, digitalisation means moving from analogue to digital. Digital business optimisation involves leveraging digital technologies, particularly emerging technologies, to optimise existing business processes.

Culture is hardest to change

"Digital business transformation is where you're leveraging digital technologies to really fundamentally change the product or the business model, or the way that you're producing a product," says Burke.

"Digital business has taken hold. It's real."

Nobody can afford to put their head in the sand and say: 'I'm busy keeping the lights on'.

Brian Burke, Gartner research VP

Local CIOs, however, report they're still having difficulty implementing their plans, and say changing the culture in their organisation is the biggest barrier to scaling digital transformation.

"Changing the culture is absolutely fundamental. You need to create a culture for change, transformation and innovation in the organisation. Culture is the hardest thing to change and the cultural shift takes time and needs momentum," he says.

Burke says disruptive technologies typically move from industry to industry, and one never knows which will be next. If laggards don't respond, "they'll often die".

"Every organisation needs to understand what changes are occurring in their business. And these changes are often enabled by technology, but they're not technology changes."

Burke says Gartner often hears customers ask how they can defend their market against a company that doesn't pay taxes.

"The bottom line is that nobody can afford to put their head in the sand and say, 'I'm busy keeping the lights on'."

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2018 is on from 17-19 September in Cape Town. ITWeb and ITWeb Brainstorm are media partners of the Gartner Symposium.

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