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CIOs reflect on the Gartner Symposium 2018

Richard Williams (centre) CIO of the EBRD with fellow CIO Mike Sturrock and CIO Editor Mark Chilingworth

Last week’s Gartner ITXPO and Symposium by the analyst house was as big as ever as business technology leaders from across Europe descended on Barcelona, no doubt partially enticed by the city and its ever pleasant weather for Symposium.

The Horizon CIO Network caught up with two members to reflect on an event, that the Horizon CIO Network editor feels was lacking in hype, and all the better for it. There was a sense of grounded and practical insight into just how business transformation and technology innovation is impacting business. The analysis presented added weight and real food for thought to the event.

The Monday featured a major presentation by Professor Brian Cox and any social media watcher of the CIO community will be well aware of how popular his presentation was: “A brilliant communicator, for making the complex simple,” CIO of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development Richard Williams told Horizon.

Williams also highlighted Gartner Senior Director, Analyst and Symposium Conference Chair Ed Gabrys: “or providing engaging and practical insight into communicating effectively, as well Richard Hunter for challenging the hyperbole of the omnipotence of the blockchain.” Hunter has been a Gartner Fellow since 1995.

“‘Continuous next’ is a ghastly phrase, but the sentiment behind it and the need to build flexibility, sustainability and real leadership and not just efficiency to be able to respond to the changing world is accurate,” the financial services CIO said.

On the role of the CIO discussion at Gartner Symposium Williams adds: “I think that we’ve (sensibly) moved back to the centrality of the CIO role as the leader / facilitator / practitioner of the digital agenda. It was great to hear less about the CDO, CMO etc and a clear understanding that CIOs need to actively lead and inform the new digital agenda.

“The networking was a bit better and the app helps in this regard, it was more focussed and much less shotgun style. Still an interesting opportunity to meet “new” people at the watercooler moments. I think, however that it is too big, its like a flippin’ cattle market. Perhaps just CIOs in future?

“Interestingly I thought the Expo was poor, often the tech was too out there for many who are struggling with modernisation / digitalisation, or increasingly legacy,” Williams said.

Head of IT for Monarch Aircraft Engineering Alex Farr highlighted the value of the keynote by
author Andreas Ekstrom, Seven ways to rule the world.

“The presentation was thought provoking and engaging. He connected well with the audience and was extremely funny – I can’t remember laughing as hard at any other technology presentation,” Farr said.

“In previous years the themes have been around preparing and developing digital strategies. This year the focus was more about the behaviours and culture needed to execute these strategies,” Farr observes. “The messaging around the role of the CIO was consistent with the past couple of years, business focused first. My take-away was about developing more of the soft skills in order to engage with the rest of the business.”

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About Mark Chillingworth 278 Articles
Mark Chillingworth has over 20 years of journalism and editing experience across all media platforms including online, live events, print magazines and television.

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