CIOs need to create business operations that are both rock-solid and fluid if they want to succeed in digital business, according to Gartner, Inc. At the same time, the IT organization will need bimodal IT to help CIOs efficiently develop the speed and agility their organization needs to meet digital challenges. 

“CIOs can’t transform their old IT organization into a digital startup, but they can turn it into a bi-modal IT organization,” said Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of Research. “Forty-five percent of CIOs state they currently have a fast mode of operation, and we predict that 75 percent of IT organizations will be bi-modal in some way by 2017.” 

Gartner analysts explored how CIOs can become digital leaders during the opening keynote today at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2014, which is taking place here until Thursday. 

There is a dramatic shift in the power of IT spending. While businesses spend a little more on technology, they will own much less of IT. Gartner forecasts that EMEA IT spending will reach $1.3 billion in 2015, a 2.6 percent increase from 2014. Thirty-eight percent of global IT spending is currently managed outside the IT department, with most spent on digital initiatives. By 2017, this figure will be over 50 percent. 

“Digital startups sit inside your organization, in your marketing department, in HR, in logistics and in sales,” said Mr. Sondergaard. “As IT leaders, you must design, resource and deploy for a world that’s digital first. In this new model, every business unit is a technology startup. Now is your opportunity to create that team. Partner with the digital startups inside your organization and prove that you can move fast too. Embrace the outside change.” 

While IT has been like rocks in a river – resisting change, the digital world is in continuous flow that creates business moments. There are moments when you can leverage some “digitalized” process to create new opportunities. 

“By institutionalizing business moments you build ‘always on’ opportunities, and you allow the unanticipated to happen through enabling technology users to evolve the use of the technology on their own, and with you,” said Tina Nunno, vice president and Gartner Fellow. 

With Innovation Comes Risk

Eighty-nine percent of CIOs say that the digital world is creating new types and levels of risk for their business. The complexity of digital business means that IT leaders will experience unintended consequences. 

“In digital business, you must change your relationship with risk. Digital risk is not something to mitigate. Instead, embrace risk. Taking risk is a conscious leadership decision,” said Ms. Nunno. “Treat your ability to manage specific risks as a competency and capability. Focus, so you can see what risks are worth taking. Accepting risk is okay; ignoring risk is tragic.” 

Digital Humanism

With all the talk about the digital business opportunities in big data analytics, sensor technology, and smart business process management, it’s easy to forget that business moments are human moments. There’s a conflict between what an IT leader can do, and what they should do. 

“Digital humanists believe that technology is there to put people at the center. To enable them to do things they want to do, or what they don’t know is possible. The virtue of technology comes out of being able to help people realize their ambitions,” said Frank Buytendijk, research vice president at Gartner. “The digital humanist thinks in terms of behaviors, emotions and interactions, not traditional processes.” 

The Digital Humanist Manifesto

The emergence of digital business requires that IT leaders shift the balance toward digital humanism, and therefore. Gartner has created the Digital Humanist Manifesto. The manifesto includes three principals: 

Put People at the Center – All design should be human-centered design. It starts with observing people. Don’t ask people for their requirements. Everybody, even colleagues in the rest of the business have trouble formulating them. Don’t ask people what they want, watch what they do. Observe. 

Embrace Unpredictability – While embracing the unexpected is not a new concept, it is particularly relevant for digital business. The moment a company’s digital technology is out there, in the hands of the users, it will start to affect their behavior. What you can do as a leader is, listen, observe, and get out of the way. The business results will be: new products, new brand ambassadors, new markets, and true competitive differentiation. 

Protect Personal Space – Let people make their own decisions. A digital humanist adopts what is called “privacy by design”. They take privacy into account throughout the whole life cycle of a particular product or service.