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Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo – CIO Role Today and Tomorrow

By Vladimir Jelov, Enterprise Sales Manager, Europe, CITIC Telecom CPC


2019 marks a 41-year anniversary of Gartner. For years, Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo brought together CIOs and IT leaders from across a variety of sectors. Naturally, as industry changes, so does the format of events and themes. But more interestingly, what has changed in the roles of the event participants over years? We asked Ms. Elena Chernyh, our Head of Europe Enterprise Sales and a veteran of the ICT sector about her impressions.

Q: Elena, was there anything, which stood out in Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in terms of delegates?

A: Gartner is an institution with a well-established format. So, we have seen a lot of familiar faces this year. Many delegates and presenters visit this event every or every other year, looking for insights, industry trends and learning from peers. It is objectively difficult to get several of your peers in the same room when you are head of one of the largest enterprises in the EU, Gartner solves this. Even though most large organizations with innovation programs want to work with startups, I did notice low participants from startup segment.

Q: What about the event theme, anything noteworthy?

A: There are a few things, which stood out. The overall theme of 2019 was “Leading the Digital Society” and here we are in 2020 completely relying on Technology to support the global society during this uncertain time of COVID-19 Pandemic.

The keynote topic “Winning in the turns” stands so true today and we can add one more force in it other than the three mentioned by Valentin Sribar: the economic shifts, political change or the rise of digital giants.

I would say all the sessions were balanced, there were something for everyone attending the Symposium ranging from Business Intelligence and Advanced Analytics, Connectivity Technology such as SD-WAN, Emerging and Disruptive Technologies, Customer and End User Experience, Leadership, People and Culture, Security & Compliance, and the most important one – Digital Transformation.

Q: Did Gartner run out of technological topics to fill 5 days, or are there some other reasons?

A: I think that this has a lot to do with changes to the role of CIO. 10-20 years ago, the role of CIO was very much that of procurer of everything IT. Hence, Gartner served as a display of best of breed technologies. Today, CIOs are strongly focused on delivering or even driving business value. If they need to get a new cloud platform in South Africa, they will just Google it or ask one of their colleagues on LinkedIn about cloud providers in a particular market. However, if they need business advice on shaping their internal communication strategy – it is not easy. Many CIOs and enterprise architects have questions about expanding their operations into challenging markets. Places like China and Russia are becoming gradually more attractive, yet people from other business functions are often at a loss on how to approach those. And then it suddenly becomes the task of CTO or CIO to figure out how to start selling and marketing there. I believe Gartner started shifting its format to accommodate the changing needs of their participants.

Q: What does this mean for us and other companies trying to sell to those CIOs?

A: Well, the IT sector should also make a similar shift. 10 years ago, we could “just” sell a global MPLS network to a financial institution or manufacturing corporation because they needed one. Today, our customers do not buy tools, which are “must-have” items because the industry dictates so. They buy solutions to their real problems and to invest in future. E.g. a secure link to Amazon AWS from Russia to enable critical processing while staying compliant with local legislation.

Q: Do you think this trend will continue?

A: I do. Technology plays an important role in business landscape. This means that every single process will need an “IT manager” to take care of the IT-side of things. This means that the new breed of managers will need to have both IT and business function DNA. Which is why it is so important to teach CIOs about business/human topics and other managers – about IT.

Q: With COVID-19 situation, entire world is standing in a uncertain turn. Do you think this will transform the role of CIO faster than ever?

A: We are living in uncertain times. Unexpectedly an unprecedented number of employees globally are working remotely and businesses are struggling to adapt to a new reality caused by the pandemic.

A situation where IT infrastructures, supply chains, critical business functions and people are pushed to the limit of adapting to a situation rapidly. Adoption on UCaaS such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams & many more grew exponentially.

CIO’s role has become central in warranting a technology backbone that supports critical business dimensions and enables business continuity. Organizations are realizing that business indeed is technology driven. COVID-19 is changing the role of CIO as we speak.

Does your company have business challenges, which may be solved by smarter infrastructure and ICT strategy? Contact us for a free consultation.

Vladimir Jelov

Mr. Vladimir Jelov

Enterprise Sales Manager, Europe, CITIC Telecom CPC

Mr Vladimir Jelov is CITIC Telecom CPC enterprise sales manager responsible for developing of business in Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Denmark. His main priorities include work with new and existing customers, identifying the ones which our infrastructure can help expand to outside markets, as well as promoting our brand. He is a seasoned ICT professional with over 15 years of experience and knowledge from a variety of IT disciplines such as Telecommunications, ERP, HRMS, BI etc.

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