2016: The beginning of the first digital decade

The acceptance and importance of digital in society, government and business makes digital enablement the number one priority for CEOs for the next 10 years.

In a recent survey of over 400 organisations across 24 countries, over 90% of CIOs said they were bypassed by line of business colleagues purchasing their own IT hardware, software or cloud services - some of them all of the time, and most of them some of the time.

As our colleague Rob Evans recently observed, this is nothing new. Line of Business executives across industry and government have, at times, felt the need to bypass their colleagues in IT to acquire a server or a piece of software in double quick time. Keeping the CIO out of the loop gave them what they thought was a faster way to get what they needed - broom cupboards the world over are still hiding equipment that nobody really needed to know about.

However, with the emergence of cloud, with its seemingly limitless potential, capacity and value for line of business leaders desperately looking for the digital edge, the world needed a moniker; and ‘Shadow IT’ was born.

But if we can see past the shadow, or how the CIO controls it, we can start to understand why in 2016 we are in an age when line of business is rightly mesmerised by the lure of digital transformation.

And we can see why the next 10 years will see the dawn of the first truly digital decade.

Quite simply, digital is disrupting ever aspect of business - from the way businesses think about how they interact with customers and develop new products, to the way they disrupt their competitors and maximise profitability. Every business wants an app, every marketing campaign has a hash tag, and every employee has access to personal digital technology they could never dream of being provisioned by their internal IT team.  Digital is creating mass-awareness of the power of technology amongst line of business executives who are as far from being traditional IT literate as possible.

That is why we are moving from an IT defined world to a digitally defined one.  The power balance, the understanding of value, the desire to innovate and disrupt, is now firmly in the minds and hands of executives who can see the potential of technology without being technologists.

Digital is democratising what was once the preserve of IT departments, it will liberate retailers, banks, insurance companies, manufacturers, educators, healthcare professionals, law enforcement agencies, governments and cities to transform themselves - and to transform the value they offer to those they sell to, or serve.

Imagine a world where citizens will willingly share their personal health data with friends, competitors, and companies?

It is already here.

In a recent survey of 13-17 year old UK young adults in 2014, over 76% said they would be happy to share their digital health data (collected through wearable health monitoring software on their smart phones or wearable tech) with the National Health Service as long as they received a tangible benefit. In fact, it is already commonplace for many of us to purchase technology that monitors our every step, every pedal rotation, every calorie fed into our bodies, and analyse it and share it amongst our friends, fellow joggers or cyclists.

As we discussed in a recent blog, that is no dystopian future ruled by machines. It is digital technology enabling people to do more. That is what’s getting line of business executives so excited, and it is already happening.

The examples are endless; from wearable health devices, using 3D printers to disrupt supply chains or create new, low cost medical devices, banks using digital money to transform secure transactions, digital enabled classrooms in universities and schools, retailers creating new in-store experiences or tracking customer behaviour whether online or in-store…

In so many ways, digital technologies are part of every aspect of life, work and play.

Why can we do this?

Innovation in smart phone technology, a world where there is an app for everything, advances in analytics, and the low cost of all of this digital technology means it is available to millions of people who have no concept of what IT departments are, or do.

Why do we do it?  Digital enables us to do things that empower us to live better, healthier, smarter lives, and business is no different.

We are entering a digital decade because the power of digital is truly in the hands of those who want to drive the services their customers, citizens, students, or patients receive.

What defines the DNA of digitally driven organisations?

  • All can see the potential to transform through digital innovation and continual digital development; and will likely have CxO level digital transformation ownership such as a Chief Digital Officer
  • All recognise the power, value and potential of exploiting and monetising existing and new forms of digital data
  • All agree that governments, institutions and organisations need to transform where and how people work, learn and live, creating digital enabled places and spaces
  • All understand the importance of addressing the security threats associated with digital transformation
  • All are willing to invest in digital ready infrastructures to accelerate their digital strategies and the digital experiences of their customers, citizens and employees
  • And all now accept that they need a transformed IT function that can operate and serve their business at the speed of digital.

Tags Digital Transformation, IT Leadership, digital adventurer, CIO, digital natives, Business Strategy