Gartner Throws Web 2.0 Gauntlet to CIOs at ITxpo

Peter Sondergaard opened the analyst firm’s vaunted annual Symposium/ITxpo this week by admonishing CIOs to prepare for a consumer shift that will reverse the current state in which business and government control customer and constituent relationships. As reported by eWeek, Gartner’s head of global research didn’t pull any punches: businesses will have to earn the right to justify premium offerings by empowering consumers:

gauntlet3“The impact of consumerization is the most important trend impacting IT in the next 10 years,” Sondergaard remarked. “There will be a shift in culture reflecting the dominance of the ‘digital natives.’ Consumer technology will be integrated into (the) home, home office, in transit or recreational areas, and users will initiate interactions from all of these settings.”

The Technology Thread

The leaders of the trend will be “digital natives,” who pervasively use blogs, podcasting, video and Voice over IP to connect and communicate. In addition, Sondergaard asserted that consumers’ boosted processor speed, storage capacity and bandwidth would increasingly challenge corporate IT: “By 2011, companies will deliver Web services to customers for personal application configuration.”

Gartner’s annual CIO survey shows that some organizations are out of synch with the trend: the #1 priority for CIOs is growth, yet double the number of CIOs left their jobs in 2006 over 2005 due to companies’ over-reliance on cost reduction. Moreover, IT budgets are projected to increase only 4% in 2007 and 2008, reflecting a 3% drop from 2006’s 7% jump over 2005.

The Business Angle

Gartner didn’t discuss what consumers would be communicating with their new technology tools and habits (we did), but by observing consumers’ past behavior, it’s not too difficult to guess: they will create content and communicate about the things that are important to them, that can connect them to others. The companies that create products and services that consumers can enthusiastically use as threads to weave their (increasingly collective) experience will benefit disproportionately in the Web 2.0 trend.

In other words, products and services must have much more of a “wow factor” to be worth mentioning, and, no, that doesn’t mean stamping a different flower pattern into the paper towels (unless select sheets contain URLs that link to an on-line scavenger hunt).

Although it’s not obvious to most executives yet, consistently achieving this “wow factor” will require an unimaginable level of innovation to which Industrial Economy companies aren’t accustomed. Companies will improve their odds most by collaboratively engaging customers directly and seamlessly to design products and services for themselves (not necessarily mass customization as much as designing products/services for their demographics). This will only work when organizations can deliver what customers come up with, and that means a new level of flexibility and adaptiveness in the back of the house.

In a parting shot to enterprises and CIOs, Gartner Chief of Research Darryl Plummer added, “Any organization that doesn’t contribute to growth is expendable. If you don’t start your change initiatives today, you may not have another chance.”

1 comment to Gartner Throws Web 2.0 Gauntlet to CIOs at ITxpo

  • […] The Knowledge Economy marks a profound shift in sensibility: customers become collaborators with trusted companies and other customers to create experience. Currently Web 2.0 resources such as weblogs, social networking sites, podcasts, video and VoIP are enabling real-time, rich interaction among individuals around the world at virtually no cost other than time (assuming computer and access). Industrial Economy “demographics” shatter into microsegments (“tribes”). Companies will need real-time information about customer experience, and customers themselves will gladly provide this information to trusted parties. For more, see Web 2.0 and the New Age of Hacking or Gartner Throws Web 2.0 Gauntlet at IT Expo. […]

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