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Gartner: Many CEOs say Digital, but think E-business

24 Apr 2014

CEOs now see technology – especially in the context of the D word: ‘digital’ as an important way to win growth, as economies rise again.

Last week we published the Gartner CEO and senior business executive survey, an annual global survey of over 400 of the most senior business executives at large companies

The findings are quite rich and detailed. When I’m asked to net out some of the top findings for this year, I point to three things:

* Growth is a very high priority for CEOs – rising vs costs again year over year, showing the strength of business leader confidence to go out and win new customers and revenue.

* CEO mentions of IT related matters as a business priority, are at the highest level we have seen for over a decade

* But CEO understanding of digital business, is lagging.

While CEOs are keen on investing in IT and digital, we also see a risk that they will direct the investment mostly towards older ideas and a market lagging agenda.

By old, I mean things that could have been in an “e-business” strategy circa 2004.

Capabilities like e-commerce and online marketing have now become mainstream and many companies find themselves needing to catch up.

They have done a bit of both for years – but only now are they taking those capabilities seriously, as the main way to get the fastest part of business growth.

Beyond that, copying the web experience into a coupe of mobile apps to spice things up, isn’t going to take them to the next level.

CEOs should be starting work on the next set of major disruptions too, because technology is accelerating.

Some CEOs will scrabble hard to catch up the 8 to 10 year gap they left open, between when the last major tech enabled business idea arrived in their industry and when it really started to bite.

However, they might only get 3 to 5 years until the next major shift hits their markets hard - and that clock has already started counting down.

Our survey found that less than a quarter of CEOs appreciate what digital business is really starting to mean – as a world of mobile enabled, smart products emerges to form the internet of things.

They must start pursuing that agenda now. If they are still catching up with the old e-business stuff, it’s going to be a hard ride.

By Mark Raskino - Gartner Blog