IT leaders can best direct digital transformation efforts within their organizations when they start by creating a vision for their own industry, according to new research from Gartner.

Many organizations have yet to start digital transformation efforts, even though Gartner research estimates that more than 40 percent of revenues for some types of enterprises are expected to come from digital business by 2020; that’s nearly double the percentage for organizations in 2015, contends the research and consulting firm.

Gartner addresses this struggle in its report, "Create an Industry Vision for Digital Business." This report is part of the larger Gartner Special Report "Industry Visions for Digital Business Set the Terms of Competition," a collection of research that offers examples of industry visions that can help business and tech leaders define their own visions for digital transformation.

Recognizing the challenge of such a dramatic undertaking, Gartner recommends that organizations begin with a vision for their own industry.

"Enterprises can transform by exploiting business moments or by using digital capabilities to enter or create new markets, as Airbnb and Uber have done," said Jorge Lopez, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "However, many enterprises will find it easier to start by creating a vision for digital business for their particular industry.

“This approach enables the enterprise to tilt the fundamentals of competition in its favor without limiting digital business to narrow sequences of events and committing to a vast building project,” Lopez said. “After the enterprise has established its vision, it can more easily tackle business moments or leverage its digital capabilities in new markets."

Lopez offers the example of an organization envisioning changes within its industry if the Internet of Things or smart machines were used to full potential.

"For asset-intensive industries, digital technologies can automate operations on a large scale—not just individual business processes, but a whole operation end to end,” Lopez said. “Productivity will leap as smart automation makes better, faster decisions, and produces more at lower cost with fewer assets and fewer stoppages. At the same time, optimized production will usually reduce the enterprise's environmental impact."

CIOs who have been put in charge of digital business must understand what an industry vision for digital business involves. Gartner says it consists of four parts:

Concept. An industry vision seeks fundamental change that will affect many dimensions of the business and operations.

Capabilities. The enterprise needs a new set of capabilities to make the digital business work.

Assets. The enterprise needs a different set of assets to execute the business, including people, data and intellectual property (IP).

Research. The new digital business is not static; and the enterprise will have to maintain a research program designed to add to the business and will need to experiment continually with new digital business possibilities.

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