For the first time, research company Gartner has found that a sizeable group of consumers and employees are unwilling to give up security, safety and peace of mind in exchange for convenience. As a result three quarters of marketing organisations are now rethinking the way they look at customer data, also in part due to new regulations.

According to Chris Howard, distinguished research vice president at Gartner, “As a CIO, you have a mandate to maintain data protections on sensitive data about consumers, citizens and employees. This typically means putting someone in charge of a privacy management program, detecting and promptly reporting breaches, and ensuring that individuals have control of their data. This is a board-level issue, yet barely half of organisations have adequate controls in place.”

He was speaking to more than 900 CIOs and IT leaders at Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in Toronto, where he argued that it’s time for organisations to be more adaptive to change, and to bring new practices, develop new capabilities and create new ways to succeed. This is something Gartner calls the ContinuousNext approach and which it describes as the future evolution of concepts it has introduced in recent years that will build momentum through digital transformation and beyond.

Mastering privacy and creating trusted digital connections is an urgent imperative for ContinuousNext. Gartner believes that Canada is ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to privacy regulations.

As well as privacy the imperatives for CIOs to implement a ContinuousNext strategy include:

  • Augmented intelligence
  • Continuous modernisation
  • Digital product management
  • Culture

Howard told delegates to the event, “The transition to digital is undeniable and accelerating, disrupting both government and business models. These new models redefine the way organisations create, deliver and capture value. They are challenging the way CIOs operate, bringing new mindsets and new practices to IT.”

“Take data, for example. Executives and investors are not just interested in data — which is now old news — they are interested in what you do with data through advanced analytics and artificial intelligence,” said Mr. Howard. “Leaders apply technology and information in unique and creative ways to outperform their peers. It’s what distinguishes them from the rest, and that’s where ContinuousNext comes in.”

Augmented Intelligence

Augmented intelligence is the logical step beyond artificial intelligence (AI). A recent Gartner survey showed that 30 per cent of Canadian CIOs have implemented or plan to deploy AI in the next 12 months. AI is central to Canada’s innovation agenda and has a leadership advantage in three areas: research, supporting the AI startup sector and policy development.

However, there is a growing public view that AI systems will change the workforce, but Gartner does not view this as detrimental to workers.

“Putting workers side by side with advanced artificial intelligence systems, process and robotics allows for those jobs to become more impactful,” Mr. Howard said. “Companies adopting AI today often let workers keep their jobs, albeit in a new form, even making those jobs more meaningful and rewarding.”

Continuous Modernisation

This imperative is no longer about organisations supporting and working around legacy infrastructure. The focus is now on modernising the core to shape change and drive digital transformation. This is what Gartner calls continuous modernisation.

Modernisation is often tied to a cloud source strategy and Canada’s spending on cloud services is second only to the U.S.

“However, to make the leap to continuous modernisation, organisations must focus on three things — shaping a different type of relationship with your business by aligning with partners; shifting mindset toward legacy infrastructure by recognising the dynamism that is central to a continuous modernisation effort; and sharing insights and new perspectives with your leaders, allies and teams,” said Katherine Lord, research vice president at Gartner.

“A renovated core technology platform that is continuously modernised will spring you forward into the next phase of your ContinuousNext journey.”

Digital Product Management

Digital product management is a core imperative of ContinuousNext and accelerating adoption means that if CIOs don’t start soon, they may never catch up. Gartner’s 2019 CIO Agenda survey shows 24 per cent of Canadian CIOs are already in the process of implementing product-centric delivery.

“Digital product management isn’t just a different way of doing IT. It’s a different way of doing business,” said Hung LeHong, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “In the digital world, keeping pace with the needs of customers, partners and employees requires a product mindset. Products launched quickly, with continuous updates — in a way that doesn’t overwhelm — but match customers’ needs, are at the heart of this approach. Enterprises must modernise their core systems to create an agile platform foundation for this kind of product delivery.”


Organisations must have a dynamic culture to enable ContinuousNext. However, culture is identified by 46 per cent of CIOs as the largest barrier to realising the promise of digital business. Gartner analysts said the first rule of culture change is to know what you want to change into. In terms of getting there, you will need to do a lot of big change. But, what leaders systematically leave on the table are the smaller actions that could have just as big of an impact on change. This is where culture hacking comes in.

“Hack your culture to change your culture,” said Mary Mesaglio, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “By culture hacking, we don’t mean finding a vulnerable point to break in to a system. It’s about finding vulnerable points in your culture and turning them in to real change that sticks. Culture hacking takes change off the horizon and inserts it into people’s day-to-day, in a visceral, memorable way. A great culture hack incites an immediate emotional response — shock, love, shame, pride — has immediate results, and is visible to lots of people at once.”

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