Gartner Symposium 2015: Our Takeaways

Gartner Symposium2015

by: Riccardo La Rosa

As we just wrapped Gartner Symposium 2015 in Orlando FL we are sharing our main takeaways from this incredible conference. First of all, kudos to Gartner for putting together an incredible event with over 10,000 attendees and vendors, lots of content and working sessions and an incredible roster of analysts and speakers.


This is a technical conference targeted to CIOs, CTOs and IT leaders. It focused mostly on Gartner vision for the future of technology. So let’s dig in:

  • Digital Transformation: a lot of companies are still struggling to redefine their vision to become a digital business. Digital business, though, doesn’t mean digital marketing. This is not a software project either, it is a business process change initiative led by the CEO. As such, CEOs that were interviewed see this digital transformation as fundamental to continue to grow in a multi-global economy, expecting to double digital revenue over the next 5 years. CIOs need to start getting involved in long-term planning for digital change working with the CFO and Strategy Officer. Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE (GE is 123 years old), just hired a new CIO and CDO (Chief Digital Officer) because he believes that GE needs to “be paranoid and reinvent itself constantly. Now we [GE] have to build a software company inside GE and we have to apply it to healthcare, aviation, oil and gas, and power”. Surprisingly when Mark Raskino, Vice President and Gartner Fellow, asked the audience during the interview with Jeff Immelt to shout “yay” if they are in favor of “Chief Digital Officer”, there was absolute silence. This is a crude reality that many CIOs are facing today where they don’t feel they are in control of “digital” anymore and somebody else is taking the charge to lead this change. Jeff’s final words of advice for the audience were “you [CIOs] have been too passive for too long, you have to be an active leader demanding your seat at the table”. We have seen similar changes among many of our clients in Financial Services, Media and Retail, where instead the CMO (and in some cases the newly appointed CDO) is leading the charge to transform the company to be more digital. CMOs have been closer to their clients and customers and as such they understand the business opportunities in front of them. We have been able to successfully translate these new wants and needs from CMOs in an actionable roadmap to build an agile enterprise backed by systems fully supported by the CIO team.
  • Algorithms/Cognitive Systems: Everybody now understands the importance of data, and digital has accelerated the volume of data hosted in the enterprise. Calling it the post-app era, Gartner estimates that by 2020 1 million new devices will come online every hour. But all this data is inherently dumb unless you have algorithms that can learn and know what to do with it. Ginny Rometty, President and CEO of IBM, beautifully said that “everyone talks about being a digital company with data, analytics, mobility and security, all very important. But when everything is digital what differentiates you as a company? the next trend is cognitive systems.” Digital is not the destination, it’s necessary but not sufficient. Cognitive systems understand structured and unstructured data, they reason, they learn and build competitive advantage for automation, provisioning and prediction. Average cars now have 100 million lines of code. The new era is digital business AND digital intelligence. This provides the ability to scale your workforce, augmented with cognitive systems that can service their clients better and faster. For Healthways, a healthcare provider with 65M clients, we have built a powerful data driven platform for sustained engagement about health and wellbeing to help users reduce health risks that come from poor choices. This platform supports the patient/physician relationship, it predicts outcomes well and most importantly changes them. One of the many products we designed and developed, Well-Being Go, helps keeping their commitments and momentum by leveraging behavioral economics to help them hook on the right decisions.
  • IoT (Internet of Things): IoT is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. This is very much top of mind for manufacturers, healthcare, transportation and entertainment companies. It is all about controlling operations, preventing maintenance and saving costs. There was only one session on IoT Architecture and it was rather light on details, because it is such a new field. The ecosystems are not fully developed, we are in the early stages. One of the main use cases is for healthcare/insurance companies that could offer better service by deploying devices to the field and trigger events based on data collected. IoT is not a technology, it is a business objective, a pairings of “things” and service. Gartner recommendation is that each company has to build their IoT journey map: the level of implementation is different for each industry. The only choice you have is to start the journey. You need an IoT center of excellence within the enterprise, establishing a cross functional unit which comprise of business and technology people. If we think we have a huge amount of data with digital/mobile, IoT is going to make it exponentially bigger. So the importance of cognitive systems is the next frontier.


Finally, as companies are being transformed by a digitally connected world, it is important that IT and marketing departments work together to define a successful path to continue to modernize their business processes by introducing new technology to help service their customers better. We are looking forward to share more insights and our experience leading clients through a digital business transformation with successful technology deployments. Get in touch!