Gartner analysts look at strategy in 3D

The opening keynote at Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo 2001 Canada in Toronto started with a challenge, as three Gartner analysts told the audience to get out of their collective comfort zone and begin looking at strategy in three dimensions.

Bob Knapp, an executive vice-president for Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. suggested that starting in the mid-90s, many IT professionals began suffering from “Webnesia,” which he defined as the forgetting of basic good business practices in favour of the glamour of the Internet.

With the shift in the economy, Knapp explained, companies are suddenly recovering from their bout of Webnesia, and are realizing that new kinds of strategies need to be employed in order to tackle the kinds of decisions that corporate leaders are faced with.

Knapp, along with Daryl Plummer, a group vice-president and research group director for Gartner, and Jeff Golterman, a group vice-president and research group director for Gartner, described the infrastructure strategist as the first dimension.

Plummer suggested that it is imperative for IT professionals to begin to fuse their IT strategies with their business strategies, noting that it is no longer feasible to simply align these strategies.

“Get out of the cubicle and into the business,” he charged to the audience.

Another key point that Plummer stressed is the importance of making the right infrastructure decisions.

“Flexible systems that can adapt and change are more important than getting systems that can last,” Plummer said.

Golterman referred to market strategist as the second dimension, and stated that “the days of doing business successfully without technology are gone forever. The days of those that think only of technology are numbered.”

Knapp concluded the keynote by discussing the third dimension: the horizon strategist. According to Knapp, the horizon strategist looks to the future, and uses what he calls “the three ‘I’s”: insight, integration and interaction. This kind of strategist is always looking for the next big thing, however, Knapp insisted that anyone can predict what that will be.

“The next big thing will not come as a surprise,” he said. “It will be the result of people, conditions or economies reacting to stimuli that are already present and can be detected by early strategists who read the signs.”

These signs include demographics, attitudes, behaviours, economic shifts, lurking regulations and emerging technologies and devices.

By combining each of the dimensions into one strategy, Knapp concluded, IT professionals will be able to identify opportunities through tenacity and data.

The Gartner Symposium/ITxpo concludes on Sept. 7 in Toronto.