20 Digital Game Changers: A CIO's Guide
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The Internet of things. A multipolar Web. Radical transparency. Collaborative commerce.
Today’s world is full of new products and services that are emerging from the confluence of mobile technologies, socially aware applications and the cloud.
It’s happened before. Every 15 years or so, the information technology landscape is radically reshaped by a new wave of innovations. As with previous transformations, this new wave of technologies is tearing down old industries and building up new ones. Destroying value. Creating new value. Altering the course of history before our very eyes.
These are the game changers — new technologies, applications or developments that result in fundamental changes in business models, value creation or management practices over a significant period of time.
Some are poised to create extraordinary change in society, your industry, possibly, your business. Which will have a positive impact? And how will you position your company to capitalize on the opportunities and face the challenges these game changers present?
Co-evolution of IT and society
A range of potentially powerful business and consumer applications is arriving on the scene daily. New technologies are being adopted at astonishing rates, and consumer habits are evolving faster than ever. It’s clear that this mingling of new ideas is driving the co-evolution of IT and society.
The “Next Generation of Digital Game-Changers,” a groundbreaking report by CSC’s LEF Executive Programme, examines potentially game-changing ideas that leaders in business and IT communities should understand well and watch closely.
If some of these ideas already seem familiar, they should. Game changers such as wireless broadband and biometrics are fast becoming everyday technologies. Well-known author William Gibson suggests that digital game changers like these don’t usually arise from brand new technologies. Instead, today’s innovations emerge from existing concepts that have begun to mature and realize their full potential.
While many of these trends are expected to yield net positive outcomes, the future is less clear for others. Lessons from the global financial crash demonstrate that developments, such as tighter coupling of global economic systems, create unintended consequences. In IT, an emerging trend such as the proprietary Web built on tightly controlled vendor architectures can unlock great value, as it has with iTunes and Facebook. It may also create the foundation for future monopolies. Other trends have unambiguous negative implications. Download the LEF report’s executive summary to see the list of game changers with potentially negative outcomes.
Society has always had an ambivalent relationship with technology, and potentially negative developments have always been part of our overall IT view. Common fears have been that IT advances will create a “Big Brother” state or lead to intelligent machines that will make humans irrelevant. Justified or not, these fears continue to influence our perspectives on technology in popular culture and the scientific community. They may not be entirely rational, but they also cannot be ignored.
How is enterprise IT responding?
Historically, the IT department has never been viewed as an aggressive technology adopter. IT departments have always been challenged to build new capabilities while maintaining large legacy systems.
Even so, there is a clear sense that historical patterns of technology adoption must be improved, even in difficult economic times. Many firms are beefing up their own horizon-scanning processes and elevating the role of the chief technology officer.
Further, there is a growing recognition that these trends must be addressed by every relevant part of the business — marketing, product development, customer service, legal, facilities, human resources and more. Each of these functions has important expertise in specific areas such as social media or advanced analytics.
Companies that successfully negotiated previous waves of the IT revolution have learned that enterprise IT is the only function in the company properly positioned to fill the advisory and leadership roles that most firms will require. These companies recognize that the IT organization’s influence and its decisions must be pulled forward through the company as the impact of technology moves from the back office, to the front, and directly into the hands of consumers.
Ready or not, game-changing applications are coming — with or without the involvement of enterprise IT. Those who are best prepared to adapt are those who understand these game-changing trends and technologies. The opportunities these trends present can help the prescient company strengthen during a weak economy and vault ahead of its competition when growth returns.
DAVID MOSCHELLA is global research director for CSC’s LEF Executive Programme.