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There are a series of IT force multipliers that CIOs must execute to create new opportunities for sustainable growth while investing responsibly, enhancing the organization’s brand, reinventing work and creating cyber resilience; some of these force multipliers should be performed with CIO peers. That was the message from analysts from Gartner Distinguished Vice President Tina Nuno, Paul Proctor and Christine Moyer during the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Monday keynote.

Gartner Vice President Val Sribar opened the keynote by emphasizing the importance of digital, saying that 89% of CEOs in Gartner’s global board survey said that digital is already embedded in all of their business growth strategies. “Digital acceleration is now a priority for the entire executive team,” Sribar said.

In addition, the role of the CIO has also expanded: 83% have taken on strategic leadership roles other than IT. “Digital has become a team sport and the whole executive team is playing,” he said. “You, the CIO, should be the digital head coach; this is your most important leadership role.”

Digital technologies and growth call for action

A global Gartner CIO study shows that organizations that are leading the way in digital technology expect 3x the growth, Moyer said. Investors want growth, environmental and social change, she said.

“This is where CIOs can affect change. They can do that through sustainable growth” that is repeatable without taking on additional financial debt, Moyer said.

This means more than financial results – it’s about growth that contributes to society in a positive way and is ethical, responsible and environmentally sustainable, she said.

Adding IT to the mix, “IT for sustainable growth is a set of digital investments that deliver repeatable financial results in an efficient and responsible manner,” said Moyer.

Proctor proposed that organizations “revolutionize work” by technologically enabling the workforce to create sustainable work outcomes, given that great talent is even more scarce than finding any talent.

He also advised CIOs to drive responsible investment, saying that “stakeholders demand products that, at a minimum, do no harm. Businesses that supply responsible and sustainable products have a competitive advantage.

CIOs must also implement resilient cybersecurity to help build resilient defenses that support business results without straining them. This, he said, is IT for sustainable growth.

IT force multipliers ensure sustainable growth

Nunno said 79% of all workers see technology as essential to their jobs, while 75% see improving their digital skills as important to business success. IT is both the epicenter of the talent crisis and the solution, she said.

New data from a Gartner survey of job seekers found that one of the top three pain points was “annoying or clunky application or portal technology.” As a result, many abandoned the job application process, turned down a job offer or wrote a bad review about the company, Nano said.

Also, workers satisfied with their enterprise IT job applications are twice as likely to stay with their organizations, which has a huge impact on retention, she said.

“Workers with all the technology they need are less fatigued, more intent on staying” and higher performing, Nuno said. But only one in three report having all the technology they need to work effectively.

This creates a huge opportunity for CIOs, Nuno said, noting that Gartner predicts that by 2025, 50% of IT organizations will have created a digital employee experience strategy, team and management tool, a big increase from 5% in 2021

“Become an employer of choice,” Nuno said.

Gartner identifies friction as when work is unnecessarily difficult. One force multiplier is to identify friction points in the work and “relentlessly remove them,” she said.

Another force multiplier is to invest aggressively in AI expansion. “If we want to create sustainable productivity, we need to rethink our relationship with productivity. Stop focusing on performance and focus on impact,” Nuno said.

Augmenting AI is another force multiplier because it can increase the impact of your employees by expanding their scope, reach and capabilities, such as decision-making, she said.

Another IT force multiplier is to experiment with highly visible, highly touted technologies because barriers to innovation create friction, she said.

Nunno suggested that organizations experiment and innovate during tough economic times to stay ahead of others. “Organizations that do this publicly attract the best new members of the pack,” she said. “Make room in your budgets to be bold.”

SEE: How CIOs can protect themselves against IT budget cuts (TechRepublic)

For example, many organizations struggle with hybrid work, which hurts corporate culture, according to Nunno. It’s a myth that corporate culture only happens in the office. “Culture happens in an infinite number of digital spaces and experiences.”

She added that “technology is the new epicenter of corporate culture.” Your ability to dynamically change the hard code of your culture is a measure of your ability to innovate, Nuno said.

One potentially useful innovation for hybrid work is the intraverse, which is an emerging virtual office concept that incorporates metauniverse technologies to bring employees together in immersive encounters to collaborate, connect and innovate, Nunos said.

“Imagine how your employees would feel even if you invested a little in exciting new technology and let them experiment and find new ways to make an impact,” she said. She advised CIOs to “be a little dangerous with leading edge technology” to attract and retain the talent that wants to stay ahead of others.

Make sure your workforce can deliver sustainable results

Responsible investing is a two-for-one deal to achieve sustainable growth and results, Moyer said. It delivers financial and sustainability results simultaneously.

The next stage of digital technology will strengthen sustainability outcomes, she said. Sustainability increases our digital maturity, and digital technologies increase our sustainable maturity – a virtuous cycle, she said.

For example, it has been noted that if you invest in AI for route optimization to reduce costs, you will also reduce greenhouse gases at the same time, which is a two-for-one investment.

Two-for-one force multipliers include smart connected infrastructure. An example would be a bridge that warns of black ice 100 feet away, Moyer said.

Another force multiplier is autonomous sourcing, which she likened to “online dating for suppliers, without all the fuss”. Autonomous sourcing uses AI, machine learning and natural language processing to access a wider range of suppliers and automate the process.

The final force multiplier here is the digital reduction in power consumption. Gartner predicts that by 2030, digital technologies will reduce 10% to 20% of the carbon emissions needed to limit global warming, she said.

However, the caveat is that this will require putting the enterprise on an “energy diet” and taking digital technology to the next level. Start with IT and optimize your computing and storage usage, and factor energy efficiency into your choices, Moyer said.

“Move more to the cloud, but make sure the cloud will help more than it will hurt because some cloud data centers use coal while others use renewable energy,” she noted. The same goes for AI – make sure it helps more than it hurts.

Create resilient cybersecurity

Proctor told the audience that “every day you get hacked” and that resilience needs to be a business model with sustainable cybersecurity treated as a business issue, not a technical one.

The first force multiplier is to manage your attack surface with external attack surface management to orchestrate all actions and investments along the software supply chain. This will help you find any external vulnerable assets, Proctor said.

Use software composition analysis to gain visibility into deficiencies in your software supply chain, he advised.

The second force multiplier is to prioritize the most important business outcomes and the most critical technology dependencies by identifying the dependencies.

The third power multiplier is to use outcome-oriented metrics and protection level agreements to decide how much security you want and how much you want to spend. This makes security explainable to boards and stakeholders, he said.

“Think of investing in security as a competitive advantage,” Proctor said. “Protecting your brand makes you an employer of choice and supplier of choice.”

He advised the audience to stop investing in security tools and start investing in security outcomes.

“Choose the technologies that match your organization’s ambitions and risk appetite,” Proctor said. Also, as CIOs, you need to demonstrate your leadership and vision, he added.

“Work with your executive colleagues to leverage force multipliers to help your organization achieve IT for sustainable growth,” Proctor said.

Summarizing the actions to enable IT for sustainable growth, Moyer emphasized that CIOs must revolutionize work by creating an IT-based brand. Make IT the epicenter of your talent strategy, she said. Ensure sustainable cybersecurity to create a long-term competitive advantage.

“You are the ultimate force multiplier. You … will provide IT for sustainable growth,” she said.

One way to build cyber resilience is to manage your cybersecurity risk—this TechRepublic Premium Security Risk Assessment Checklist can help.

Gartner: IT force multipliers for sustainable growth, cyber resiliency and responsible investment

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