Home CIO Trends Shift towards ‘platform thinking’ a must: research

Shift towards ‘platform thinking’ a must: research

Leading businesses must shift to platform thinking in terms of their business models, delivery mechanisms, talent and leadership, in order to survive and thrive, according to a newly published global survey of CIOs.

According to the survey by analyst firm Gartner, as the implications of digitalisation play out, it is becoming clear that “hardcoded business and operational models will not suffice and that a more adaptable approach is required.”

The worldwide survey by Gartner gathered data from 2,944 CIO respondents representing more than $250 billion in CIO IT budgets in 84 countries.

According to Gartner, data from the 2016 CIO Survey shows that the average CIO expects digital revenue to grow from 16% to 37% of total revenue in the next five years.

Similarly, Gartner says that public-sector CIOs are predicting a rise from 42% to 77% in digital processes and, while the meaning of digital revenue and processes is open to interpretation, Gartner says it is clear that digital business is a reality now, and it is expected to be a “significant aspect of achieving competitive advantage and differentiation using information and technology.”

"We are now knee-deep in the era of digital business, with many companies reimagining their business and operating models based on digital capabilities," said Dave Aron, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

"Businesses and government agencies are looking less like fixed ‘systems’ and more like platforms. A platform provides the business with a foundation where resources can come together — sometimes very quickly and temporarily, sometimes in a relatively fixed way — to create value."

"Leading economists have noted the increasing prevalence of platform business models, where multiple networks of stakeholders bring value to each other by exploiting network effects," said Graham Waller, research vice president at Gartner.

"Technologists have long recognised the power of platform approaches to information and technology architecture. What is new is that platform dynamics are being applied to create value in all aspects of the business."

According to the survey, 65% of CIOs believe there is a talent crisis in the world, and yet there is surprisingly little talent innovation, says Gartner. “Since virtually all stakeholders recognise the issue of talent as the biggest barrier to success, Gartner believes that talent must also be treated as a platform.”

According to Aron, “it is time to think of talent as a platform and innovate with it. CIOs must look at digital talent beyond the boundaries of the IT organisation, and indeed beyond the boundaries of the enterprise."

"Innovative talent management opportunities abound and include getting closer to universities by helping define and deliver courses and projects, performing reverse mentoring and implementing job rotations. CIOs should also think of their partners as extensions of the talent pool."

The survey found that nearly 40% of CIOs are the leaders of digital transformation in their enterprise, and more than 30% are the innovation leader, and also showed that penetration of the chief digital officer role has stalled at 9%, the same as last year.

Gartner says the results show that CIOs are being given the opportunity to lead digital transformation, but they must adapt their leadership style to exploit platform effects in leadership, building a network of digital leadership inside and outside the enterprise.

"Of course, not all businesses and government agencies are becoming platform businesses in terms of industry dynamics, either today or even in the near future," said Aron.

"However, to remain competitive, all businesses need to understand and exploit platform effects throughout the business. If platform effects are not considered in any aspect of the business — such as leadership, talent or delivery — this represents a bottleneck in the enterprise's ability to deliver, attract and retain talent, and to ultimately be perceived by customers as adding value. CIOs must build a plan to evolve all layers of their business's digital platform."

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).