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Digitalization Has Arrived

As mobility, cloud computing, and other technology trends continue to disrupt the business world, industry analysts are beginning to witness the third era of enterprise IT, digitalization, take hold. Unfortunately, many executives feel their organizations are unprepared for this transformation, largely due to the speed at which solutions are changing and the increasing pressure being placed on companies to either adapt or fall behind.

A recent Gartner study of more than 2,300 CIOs revealed these challenges, noting that 51 percent of respondents think the rate of digital expectations is too fast to cope with. Analysts highlighted how the first era of IT consisted of automating operations and speeding up processes. The second era occurred within the past decade and involved making IT services more reliable and transparent, although these projects often missed critical innovative opportunities due to the ongoing budget crisis.

The third era is now beginning and is being driven by the proliferation of cloud services, Big Data, mobility, and social technologies as well as the "Internet of Things."

"CIOs are facing all the challenges they have for many years, plus a flood of digital opportunities and threats. Digitalization raises questions about strategy, leadership, structure, talent, financing, and almost everything else," said Dave Aron, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "All industries in all geographies are undergoing digital disruption. This is both a CIO's dream come true and a career-changing leadership challenge."

Simultaneously, Aron noted that CIOs will be charged with the task of bridging the second and third eras of IT. Doing so may include embracing cloud infrastructure and other services to renovate the existing IT architecture. Relying on legacy solutions that may have worked in the past is not a strong approach to embracing innovation in the face of a new technological era.

A Verizon report highlighted some of the expected changes that may occur in 2014, including the ongoing decentralization of IT. Rather than allowing technical teams to take on the responsibility of procuring, deploying, and managing all the digital solutions in the workplace, organizations are taking new approaches that let employees across departments implement IT services as needed.

Verizon also noted that the cloud will continue to gain momentum, especially as companies look for storage and warehousing environments that can keep up with the rapidly expanding volumes of information under corporate control due to Big Data projects. Going into 2014, CIOs will need to plan ahead and find innovative ways to embrace digitalization without sacrificing their ability to meet long-term objectives.

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