I spent most of my week at Gartner Symposium in Orlando and as a first timer I was blown away by the magnitude of this event. EVERYONE was there from companies that would not be able afford lunch after they pack their booth, through the giants that have been around from well before the Internet. If I ever had doubts on why I chose tech as a profession (and it’s perfectly healthy to doubt yourself every now and then), I came back with enough energy to last for a lifetime.
The big story from the conference is the era all things digital and the internet of everything. As computing power, microprocessors, and communication is becoming cheaper, new applica@tions are emerging that are changing the world faster than ever before. Some of the examples included a waste management company that equipped their garbage bins with sensors, allowing it to cut its fleet of trucks by 20% (trucks now plan routs around full bins daily); parking garages that send messages to cars when parking spots become available, and even a new set of Huggies diapers that send a text message to the parents when the baby needs changing. While some of the concepts discussed sounded a bit farfetched, I got to experience the digital revolution through wearing an electronic wristband that allowed me to open my hotel room and shop at any of the nearby stores and restaurants. Given that the NSA is probably not tracking me right now due to the government shutdown, I am glad to report that Disney proudly filled that gap.
Another interesting observation was around competitive forces. Tesla Motors is a Silicon Valley startup that is now developing new electric vehicle models for the masses (expected to be priced around $ 30 K). Hotels are no longer competing just with other hotels, but with people like you and I through sites such as BRB and VRBO, and even individuals that can’t get a loan for a business from traditional banks can do it through services such as Kickstarter. The key takeaway here is that your next big competitor will most likely not come from your industry.
What I also appreciated is the very honest and bold approach Gartner is taking with CIOs and other IT leaders. The message was loud and clear: IT is already becoming less and less relevant in the era of digital services and unless it starts embracing the revolution it will not be around in 2020. The role of Chief Innovation Officer is becoming prevalent primarily because of IT’s failure to partner with the business and drive the technology that capitalizes on business moments. If it still takes you a couple of weeks to provision a server or a few months to add a feature to one of the corporate apps, this message was the wakeup call you needed.
Lastly, if you know a thing or two about economic forces, when the price goes up for most products and services the demand tends to go down. That’s not the case with Gartner Symposium and while every year registration fees go up, demand actually goes up as well. Beyond the excellent value of the conference this trend is proof that the world is going digital; every year more and more companies that did not partake in the revolution before are now a part of it and they all want to tell their story. I don’t know where you plan on being next November, but I have my sights set on Orlando.