Dr Gartner prescribes digital detox, play and daydreams

Published on the 22/01/2019 | Written by Heather Wright

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Digital detoxes were all the rage last year, but Gartner is advocating even CIOs get in on the detox act, including it as one of 10 possible personal development resolutions to help CIOs reframe their thinking this year.

The research company is calling on CIOs to put some focus on personal development and a little introspection this year as they face hurdles in creating more digital organisational cultures. Suggestions include taking some time to play – albeit with new technologies – day dreaming, going on a digital detox, attending non-traditional tech events, learning behavioural neuroscience and creating a wall of pride.

Mark Raskno, Gartner distinguished VP analyst, says personal development and introspection are particularly valuable for CIOs because their role is changing and evolving – with business challenges likely to be compounded this year by economic headwinds.

The list of suggested personal development strategies comes as Gartner’s latest Emerging Risk Monitor Report shows the pace of change, lagging digitisation and digitisation misconceptions were third, fourth and fifth most pressing concerns for senior executives in the fourth quarter of 2018. Talent shortages and accelerating privacy regulation.

Gartner CIO predictions chart

“Organisations face huge challenges from the pace of business change, accelerating privacy regulations and the digitalisation of their industries,” says Matt Shinkman, Gartner managing vice president and risk practice leader. “A common denominator here is that addressing these top business challenges involves hiring new talent that is in incredibly short supply.”

Those risks and challenges are continuing to up the ante for CIOs.

While last year’s CIO resolution suggestions from Gartner were focused around areas such as dealing with enterprise digital fatigue, making business-resilience war games a habit and ensuring executives experienced new technologies with some personal development based on deeper learning in new technology, this year’s resolutions are more, well, personal.

Grouped into three broad categories – reframing scope and purpose; resetting the way you think and recoding behaviour and belief – the 10 suggestions are designed to help CIOs with cultural shift needed for companies moving to digital business plans.

Gartner notes most organisations are already on the way to digital transformation, but says many are finding it difficult to scale, and suggests CIOs adopt three or four of the resolutions in 2019.

First option on the list is to strengthen peripheral vision, avoiding developing tunnel vision for defined digital goals by staying aware of new changes and technologies outside your line of sight by attending non-traditional tech-related events such as CES or SXSW.

Switching the emphasis from how to why and re-evaluating the initial reasoning behind your company’s digital initiatives and keeping the business reasons for projects at the forefront as markets and industries shift will ensure projects are on track and being properly exploited.

Gartner is also advocating CIOs stretch to occupy digital white space, finding a technology-related area where business peers are failing to move forward, such as data science, and pulling together a small team to demonstrate the potential to the business.

In the ‘resetting the way you think category’ Gartner advocates breaking from IT budget thinking to talk business profit and loss, rather than IT budget and leading with neuroscience insight – an under-utilised area which can shed light on why we do what we do and be a powerful tool for those looking for cultural change. Here, Gartner suggests taking a class on neuroscience for executives, or even having your entire team attend and ‘commit to improving the team’s brain health’. This is also the category where Gartner is advocating taking time to ‘daydream and kick into the imagination network of your brain’.

Going on a two- to five-day digital detox and getting in touch with new technologies round out the reset category. The detox should see you avoiding all smartphones, computers and tablets and instead using a physical calendar and printed books and newspapers and once complete Gartner advocates turning off automatic phone notifications and considering device free meetings.

On the flip side, the company suggests making time to directly experience a variety of new technologies to avoid getting bogged down in the day-to-day bureaucracies of the job and ensure you understand emerging technologies. Designated play time and a small budget specifically for this purpose are advocated.

When it comes to recoding behaviour and beliefs, Gartner suggests curtailing three enterprise biases, though initiatives such as reviewing job listings for words that might attract or repel candidates based on gender, ethnicity or religion, and reviewing salary levels and promotions for opportunities to correct pay and promotion gaps.

Tina Nunno, Gartner distinguished VP analyst and one of the three authors of the report along with Raskino and Mary Mesaglio, notes that CIOs are spending more time than ever presenting to boards, making the need to embrace the language of leadership and power and speak in C-suite language by communicating in terms of the balance sheet, ever more important, while creating a new sense of pride and strength through things such as creating a wall of pride with a visual history of successes and the evolution of the IT department, can bolster morale and move the business towards a new culture of positivity and pride.

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