In the digital industrial era we're hurtling toward, every organization will be an IT company. Every budget will be an IT budget, and every individual will be a technology business. And unless CIOs begin taking steps today, their roles and businesses will disappear, according to the keynote presentation at today's Gartner ITxpo in Orlando.
Gartner predicted today that worldwide IT spending will grow 3.6 percent from this year to reach $3.8 trillion in 2014. Nevertheless, Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president and global head of research at the firm, told the roughly 8,500 conference attendees that the real opportunities lie in harnessing the opportunities created by the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and digitalization. Many organizations will already be thriving in this digital industrial era by 2020, so it is imperative that all businesses and government agencies plan -- and act -- now.
In 2020 the real and the virtual worlds are one. Consumer IT and organizational IT are one. Digital capabilities are all throughout your enterprise. Digital is the business. The business is digital. You are leading and thriving in the digital industrial economy.
By 2020, for example, there will be 30 billion sensors and 7.3 billion personal devices, and IoT-associated revenue will exceed $309 billion that year, Sondergaard said. Organizations across all verticals will include sensors in a wide spectrum of products (furniture, cattle, electronics, and more) to personalize customer service, cut costs, improve productivity, and discover new business opportunities.
Nick Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst, asked during the presentation, "If a processor chip just costs 50 cents, why wouldn't you make anything costing more than a few dollars smart?"
Everyone and anyone -- not solely or even primarily IT -- is behind the wheel of the digitization trend, according to Gartner.
A growing number of organizations are hiring chief digital officers, who are typically not found from within the ranks of IT or CIOs. Marketing, manufacturing, sales, and other departments are seeking ways to use the IoT; they are being spurred in part by the consumerization of IT and the adoption of rogue clouds across organizations. Suddenly, CEOs and boards are listening to alternative theories for tech use, and any CIOs looking only at back-office operations are in for a rude awakening.
Sondergaard said 70 percent of marketing organizations already have a chief marketing technologist independent of IT; 80 percent of those executives report to marketing. By this time next year, Gartner expects the number of people with titles such as chief data officer and chief digital officer to triple.
Hung LeHong, a vice president and Gartner fellow, said companies will rethink their suppliers as part of this digital industrial era. Organizations will have the opportunity to buy products and services from sources found via crowdsourcing, Kickstarter, and other ventures. Nick Young, a vice president and distinguished analyst at the firm, said they may become their own sources -- perhaps using 3D printers to provide customers with replacement parts or support items with limited sales.
A furniture manufacturer could attach a sensor to its chairs. These sensors could tell the maker when most of a customer's chairs are being used every day -- alerting agents to the opportunity for a new sale. Or they could notify a homeowner's FitBit that he has gained extra weight and even encourage the user to schedule more time at the gym, Young said half in jest. Or the furniture maker could see that nobody sits in one particular chair for very long; this could alert designers to the need for a redesign.
By 2017, at least seven of the world's top 10 multichannel retailers will have deployed 3D printing technology, he said. That means customers will be able to go into Wal-Mart, Macy's, or other leading retail/e-commerce stores, push a button, and print what they want.
Despite all this potential, David Aron, a vice president and Gartner fellow, said half the CIOs his firm surveyed are unprepared for the digital challenge. Talk about digitization, consumerization, and 3D printing is great, but CIOs also must deal with running the business today. They have to save money and improve efficiency using the current systems and networks, and they must try to educate users within limited timeframes and budgets.
To accomplish all this, CIOs may want to create a separate group or team to focus on "fast, agile, just safe enough approaches to explore, adapt, and explore new opportunities and threats and embrace and adopt the ones that fit," Aron said. This two-speed IT will allow business to operate as usual -- and empower organizations to prepare for the future, leveraging their digitized-world discoveries as they become viable.
Is Gartner right? Will we all live in a digitized world? Tell us in the comments.
— Alison Diana , ThinkerNet Editor, Internet Evolution