Worried about what might kill you? You should have attended Gartner Symposium


I recently attended Gartner’s IT Symposium, Gartner’s premier IT event. Since I’m not a fantasy city fan – sorry Disney, I mean Orlando, or was I in Las Vegas? - I was heavily motivated  to attend the conference sessions. Although one can hardly scratch the surface of the content that was covered by Gartner, I attended a number of sessions that left a lasting impression. Since I can’t share the presentation material, I thought I’d provide the highlights by referencing some memorable quotes.

Big Data will be the single biggest challenge for IT over the next 5 years” – as always, Mark Beyer was interesting and somewhat provocative. You might argue whether big data will have that type of impact, but this was one of many references throughout the conference to information management and analytics. Mark advocated that organizations should manage information as an asset and that IT has an opportunity to lead this effort. Managing information as an asset using a service based approach, organizations can optimize their processes and systems in a way that can lead to new revenue streams and business models. He also noted how data warehouse and analytic infrastructures need to be fully enabled as “information-processing platforms” that can handle big data. This drives the need for an extreme information management approach that goes beyond a product focused data management approach – this aligns well with the SAS approach to data and information.

“It’s the information that we should focus on, that is where we will find really big business strategy advantages” – There were many references to information management and analytics, even in sessions that were focused on other topics. Mark Raskino spoke about how information can be used to advance the business model. He made the point that CIOs are thinking about technology, while they should be thinking about information…”It’s all about the information, that is what wins battles between corporations… technology is a means to an end.” He discussed  that the information model will likely become the most important aspect of IT, more so than the process. “CIOs have been focused on the process flow, they need to focus on the information” in terms of how that impacts or enables superior business process. He talked about how we need to develop information models that properly structure and stratify the information and he touched on the concept of transitioning from data to information to knowledge. He spoke about how visualization will become  a crucial discipline, that we need to design the best way to get information into someone’s brain. His presentation was incredibly exciting for all of us in the analytics and information business!

“CEOs still see CIOs as tech-heads… they don’t get my business” – Mark Raskino also led an interesting session about CEO Concerns and the IT Implications. He talked about how CEOs were responding to the current economic environment and although he noted that “over ½ of all recent productivity gains can be attributed to IT”, he noted how most CEOs are looking for more from their CIOs. This is being driven by the fact that corporate boards are expecting strategic business value from IT. It was also interesting to note that many of the top CEO business concerns can be impacted by analytics and information management – improving management decision making via better information and analysis, retaining and enhancing customers, attracting new customers, building a responsive and flexible organization, reducing costs via better efficiency, becoming more open and collaborative with customers, and planning and designing the strategy for your business.

“If you are worried about what might kill you, look down” – This presentation by Clayton Christensen, from the Harvard Business School, was simply one of the best presentations that I have attended in recent years. He touched on many topics – hopefully I’ll blog about the other topics – but his major point was about business disruption and why it is so hard to sustain success. He talked about how the US economy is hindered by our financial measurement process – that we are overly focused on ratios such as Internal Rate of Return and Return on Net Assets – that businesses are making decisions based on what they learned in business school – for example, decrease your assets so that you can optimize your RONA ratio. He talked about the steel industry and how the integrated mills happily gave away the low end market to the mini-mills, that they kept giving away the low end until they had effectively worked themselves out of the market. He talked about how the same thing has happened to the US auto industry, and to the US semi-conductor market. They weren’t doing anything wrong, they did what their MBA professors taught them, they were working to optimize the ratios until the point that they effectively had no assets, other than a brand. He talked about how he spent time with a Taiwanese executive that noted “Americans measure profitability as a ratio… but banks don’t take ratios… we measure profitability in tons of money”. Interesting stuff!

Anyone else out there that attended the Symposium?


About Author

Mark Troester

IT / CIO Thought Leader & Strategist

Mark Troester is the IT / CIO Thought Leader & Strategist for SAS. He oversees the company’s market strategy efforts for information management and for the overall CIO and IT vision. He began his career in IT and has worked in product management and product marketing for a number of Silicon Valley start-ups and established software companies. Twitter @mtroester

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