Gartner is currently hosting its annual Symposium for the African region in Cape Town, where the research firm has been looking at technology trends that will shape the industry both immediately and in the months to come.

The Symposium/ITxpo has also focused heavily on the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) as an agent for change within an organisation, and this year their position has become even more significant for Gartner.

So much so that the company’s recent CIO survey finds that they are key people when it comes to defining the new business models that an organisation may be aiming to bring to the fore.

The central figure

In fact almost two-thirds of respondents from Africa are taking a lead role in the decision to change their business models, with the figure sitting at 63 percent. Added to this, IT is viewed as playing a pivotal part in making the aforementioned business model changes.

“For 90 percent of CIOs in Africa, IT is very or extremely important to business model change,” adds Tomas Nielsen, research director at Gartner.

The annual CIO survey gathered information from an estimated 3 000+ respondents in 89 countries, with 62 CIOs surveyed from across the African continent, all of whom represent organisations spending roughly $4.4 billion in IT for the year.

Along with being the central figures driving business model change within their respective organisations, CIOs are also tasked with securing a new foundation of IT for their businesses.

In this regard, the global survey are sitting at 33 percent, with Africa sitting a fair bit lower at 21 percent.

“African CIOs are still catching up on their digital business efforts compared with their CIO peers globally,” says Nielsen.

Adding that, “More than half of CIOs in Africa are showing an interest or at the designing stage, while the majority of the top global performers are scaling their digital initiatives, optimising them or seeking new opportunities.”

Where to focus

Lagging behind their global counterparts, there is therefore some ground that needs to caught up. In order to make necessary inroads, and scale up their digital initiatives, Nielsen advises CIOs focus their efforts on three main areas.

First is securing customer centricity, with a desire to create a continuous experience across the customer lifecycle. If this is achieved, consumer engagement becomes more of a surety, with it currently the top KPI by which African CIOs measure digital investments at 36 percent.

Next is a shift from a project to product approach of digital business. “A product-centric approach reduces friction in the delivery of driving quicker business outcomes as well as improving customer satisfaction and employee engagement, and enables high flexibility,” explains Nielsen.

Last is the adoption of technologies that enable the greatest possible success of digital business. “In this situation, CIOs supports the change in business and operating models by adopting game changer technologies,” he adds, with AI being one of the key ones highlighted.

“In 2019 the journey into digitalisation will accelerate and it is critical that CIOs master new abilities to anticipate and prepare the needed changes that result from the scaling of their digital business initiatives,” concludes Nielsen.

 

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