Gartner named the Symposium/ITxpo 2016 held in Cape Town from 26-28 September 2016 “The world’s most important gathering of CIOs and Senior IT Executives”, highlighting that for CIOs, now is the time to act, innovate, take risks, and transform IT from a cost centre trying to survive as a business process optimiser to a hub of value and innovation that drives your business strategy and outcomes. Kathy Gibson reported from the Symposium.

Building for a new civilisation

IT organisations today are participating in the building of a new digital platform with intelligence at the centre – and it enables businesses, can collapse industries and can fundamentally change society itself.

This is the word from Peter Sondergaard, senior vice-president of Gartner, who points out that, as a society we have done this before.

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All change in the vendor arena

IT vendors all seem to be driving different strategies in order to thrive in the new digitalisation world. But the jury is still out on whether the right move is to go big, as Dell has done; rationalise, as HP Enterprise is doing; or become a service rather than technology provider, as companies like IBM seem to be doing.

This is according to Peter Sondergaard, senior vice-president of Gartner, who believes any of these strategies – or, indeed, all of them – could prove successful.

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Digital giants drive cross-industry disruption

As digitalisation, or platform business, becomes the business norm, digital giants like Google, Apple and Amazon are becoming major players in industries traditionally dominated by other, established organisations.

Daryl Plummer, vice-president and Gartner fellow, explains that platform ecosystems are as critical to business success as IT systems.

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What CIOs need to do to thrive

CIOs are under pressure to contain costs while driving innovation, but what the big technology bets are going to be over the next months is still up in the air.

Peter Sondergaard, senior vice-president of Gartner, points out that one of the most important issues for CIOs right now is cost optimisation. “Cost optimisation is important to the success of technology implementation and business as a whole,” he says. “You will not be a successful CIO if you cannot continually optimise cost in IT.

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IT fails to deliver on the mobile revolution

The mobile revolution is well underway, but IT organisations and software vendors alike have failed to deliver the solutions that will take advantage of the proliferation of devices in workers’ hands.

David Willis, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, believes the major software vendors – despite many of them having a policy of cloud-first, mobile-first computing – have largely failed to deliver mobile applications for businesses.

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How CIOs can help to drive business priorities

Business leaders are taking the move to digitalisation seriously: “Leading CEOs know they must take digital to the core of their businesses,” says Mark Raskino, vice-president and Gartner fellow.

“And we are taking digital right into the product proposition itself. It’s no longer easy to understand what is the product and what is the digital position. It’s about blurring the boundaries between physical and virtual.”

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