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Speeding through the trough of disillusionment at Gartner Symposium / ITxpo 2017


14 . November  2017

Wouter Belmans

Posts nach Autoren: Wouter Belmans, VP of Advise & Industry Practices, BT


How are enterprises doing on their journey towards the ‘digital future’? Who´s winning the enterprise cloud wars? How important is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? And how on earth did Airbnb convince people to let strangers into their homes? These are the questions CIOs and other business leaders are looking to answer at last week’s Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Barcelona.

First impressions

It's Sunday morning and I'm in Barcelona, joining thousands of others on the hunt for enlightenment and actionable business insight. I'm the first BT person here because today is Industries Day, and industries are my thing.

Unsurprisingly, it's all about digital. Expectations are at their peak – but Gartner expects a trough of disillusionment. Digital projects don't make a digital company: 85% of projects remain stuck at the proof of concept (PoC). Many projects are focused internally, and will never come close to transforming the enterprise, let alone the industry. And CEO´s are impatient, there's no time: when an industry is 20% digitised, the digital shakeout begins! Gartner hopes to trigger ideas, help us break through the trough of disillusionment, and nudge us further up the slope of enlightenment to a world of productivity.

Many industries are on the lookout for how (and which) digital platforms will disrupt their value chain. Many still confuse the word digital with eCommerce, or look inward to achieve operational efficiencies. Few have figured out how to transform.

The healthcare crowd focused on diagnosis transformation, i.e. from a clinical encounter to a digital encounter. Patients are increasingly self-diagnosing online and the digital natives like Google and Amazon can, and will, get to them first. In fact Amazon has already obtained licenses to provide prescription drugs in 19 US states – soon we’ll move from self-diagnosis to self-treatment. Talk about disruption…

The retail folks continue to look at the industry´s behemoth (Amazon) and wonder what to do. But there is good news: Millennials are out, and Gen Z (born 1995 – 2010) is in. They will account for a 3rd of the global population by 2020. They're very cool, community-minded and conversational (if you know one, let them know). And guess what - they prefer to shop in store! So make your store into an asset, and delight your customers along a journey that´s inevitably multi-channel and AI-enabled.

And above all – if you really want to beat Amazon, think outside of the box (pardon the pun). The myriad innovative ways that retailers invent to delight their customers is impressive. My favourite is M.M Lafleur – they are a fashion brand that helps ladies dress for work. A personal stylist prepares an in-store closet based on your preferences, and helps you choose while you sip champagne. They then ship the goodies to your home or office. Can we have one for men, please?

Those working in the oil and gas industries came in lucky – long investment cycles mean they have a bit more time to think it all through. Nevertheless, the future of digitised operations is starting to come into focus – from connected fields, through collaborative and predictive fields, to autonomous fields. The techies in this industry want to control the complex using immersive technologies. They create digital twins that are full software representations of physical assets like drilling platforms, and use mixed reality (virtual reality and augmented reality) that brings the twins to life for workers, both on-site and remote.

Oh – and a short side note from Gartner - you too have a digital twin e.g. in Facebook. I’m sure we’ll see more on this in future years.

For me, the most impactful session was on Customer Centric Manufacturing. Kenneth Brant from Gartner used the example of Nest (acquired by Google) to explain that optimising the supply chain is good, but connecting and rethinking your product is better. In this instance, digitisation is about product innovation – and thereby creating a continuous improvement process through ongoing customer engagement. But we were also told that ‘Surveys are very last year’, which was my favorite conference quote.

In my next blog I'll be looking at some of the technologies that were discussed during the Symposium. In the meantime, have a look at what some of my colleagues spent their time doing.

Oh – and how on earth did Airbnb convince people to let strangers into their homes? Check out Rachel Botsman´s the New Era of Trust TED Talk. She will explain it much better than me!