Virtual CIOs and Implications For Businesses

Jan 17, 2022
5 min read

CIOs and IT managers need to look for other ways to generate value. This is the observation made by the Gartner firm, which summarizes this challenge in three priorities.

Where next? This is the central question that Gartner posed to a virtual audience during its annual IT Symposium. A bit of a rhetorical question, of course, because the analysts had prepared a mountain of presentations in response to the conference organized for four days virtually. From the inaugural exhibition, the tone was set. "The pandemic-related disruption must be an opportunity for CIOs and IT directors to seek to generate value in a fundamentally different way," said Mbula Schoen, senior research director at Gartner. But, first, these IT leaders need to ensure that 'work anywhere is a reality and that people can be managed and coached anywhere.

Furthermore, the ecosystem must be a significant point of attention. A third project will focus on what Gartner summarizes under the title Reach Beyond the Where: trying to break the shackles of current thinking. Allow us to go into detail on these three priorities.

Remote work

It's the starting point! As predicted by Gartner, in 2022, the number of knowledge workers working remotely - from home - will reach up to 47%, a doubling compared to today. In 2019, they were still only 27%. Admittedly, the IOC will have taken advantage of the pandemic to set up teleworking where it was possible and facilitate or optimize it if necessary. But he will have to go further. "Our survey shows that only 14% want to continue working full-time in the office, while 19% would prefer never to have to return to the office again. This means that CIOs must be particularly flexible to take this reality into account, analyzes Mbula Schoen. But moving from on-site to remote work is just the start. CIOs need to invest in digital workplace innovation. If only to keep talent from leaving as it is one of the motivations why a growing number of IT professionals are considering changing jobs." Yes, the talent war is raging again more than ever. However, Gartner suggests three concrete methods to attract and retain IT resources.

Build a workstation using the employee as a starting point

With a human-centric workplace, Gartner suggests a work environment that can improve productivity on the one hand and stimulate innovation on the other, with geographic location and technology being incidental. Advantages? Employees are less tired and less likely to see IT looking elsewhere while improving staff performance.

Bet on the 'business technologists'

"While shadowing IT - the use of software or applications without the consent or knowledge of the IT department - often has a negative connotation, the 'business technologists' come out of the shadows," says Mbula Schoen. According to the Gartner survey, 41% of all employees meet the definition of a 'business technologist': employees who work outside of the IT department but have technological or analytical skills and can be directly involved in projects. internal or external companies. "Dare to use them because all our studies show that organizations that do manage to achieve their digital objectives much faster than others," says Gartner.

Build an in-house 'talent marketplace.'

Such an internal talent marketplace relies on artificial intelligence (AI) combined with personal skills data. This tool can be a solution for many companies to the challenge of (possible) retraining of employees. But it can also be used to 'flexibility' the collaborators according to new missions or to orient them in the concise term towards another project. Additional advantage: this adds value for the company and offers employees new perspectives to take up a new challenge internally.

Rely (again) on a large ecosystem following on from this inaugural presentation, Distinguished Vice President of Research Hung LeHong focused on the importance of the ecosystem. "83% of companies are seeing increased demand for digital applications. And an encouraging sign: the pandemic is opening up new prospects. Due to the crisis, some rules have been relaxed, and others, on the other hand, have been tightened. powerful incentive to induce changes, and especially changes that were considered impossible until recently," said Leong, who does not mince his words. "IT is now in a position to address issues on a global level. CIOs must capitalize on the pandemic-induced digital acceleration to move forward. To aim for further digital improvements in healthcare, health, education, industry, distribution, and the public sector. But the IOC cannot do it alone. It, therefore, needs partners and must act differently than before the coronavirus." A new ecosystem where IT directors will have to distinguish between partners between one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many."


A one-to-one personal partner should preferably reach a higher level and become what Gartner calls a 'generative partnership': a company that collaborates in-depth with a technology partner to build solutions together that do not yet exist. And what will happen to the result? It will remain the property of the two parties who will together reap the benefits - and therefore the income. Such generative partnerships will become mainstream in the future, and Gartner predicts that IT spending generated through such partnerships will increase by 31% in the next five years.


One-to-many partnerships are broader and are more of an ecosystem of multiple technology partners. Such an approach is more suitable when an organization needs several partners to solve a specific problem, such as public-private partnerships (PPP) that can benefit citizens.


As the name suggests, these many-to-many partnerships involve many technology partners and different products and services from several companies that offer them to a large number of customers. Typically, these are marketplaces, app stores, or API stores.

"Let's be clear: the IOC will have to become an expert in partnerships. Then, IOC needs to attract the right partners and develop the partnerships according to the problems to be solved", adds Leong.

Think further, take more risks. This message resonates with his colleague Daryl Plummer. "The IOC must be aware that it will not be able to meet all the challenges of the future alone and that it will therefore sometimes need a friend. And in some cases, it will even need the whole village to address the global problems. So if you ask me the question 'What's next?' Dare to address larger issues than in the past. For CIOs, the good news is also that IT budgets are expected to grow by 6.2% next year."

And Plummer to see the issue of privacy as one of those global issues. "40% of people want to disclose less personal data by 2024, which will make it more difficult to monetize them. This will have an impact on authentication, privacy, and security. In our view, the solution lies there in a combination of machine learning and synthetic data," Plummer said.

These synthetic data are generated based on accurate data. This synthetic data has the same look, meaning, and feel as the original. Therefore, a synthetic dataset can be used for the same purposes as an initial dataset and lead to the same analyses and correlations - but being anonymized. No artificial data point can be approximated to the original data point in the starting set, making it ideal for use in solutions where privacy is a concern. "Perhaps we could integrate cybersecurity into a federated AI model as a solution to everything. And so, there will never again be a need to worry about whether or not during a ransomware attack you have to pay ransom to pirates. Absurd idea? Absurd ideas are often ridiculed until they become a reality", concludes the analyst