CIOs will be effectively becoming COO by proxy: Gartner predicts

Analysts at research firm Gartner today revealed its top strategic predictions for 2021 and beyond.
Oracle retail for CIOs
“Technologies are being stressed to their limits, and conventional computing is hitting a wall,” said Daryl Plummer, distinguished research vice president and Gartner Fellow.

“It’s essential that technology and processes are able to keep up to support digital innovation needs. Starting now, CIOs can expect a decade of radical innovation led by non-traditional approaches to technology.”

Gartner analysts presented top 10 strategic predictions during Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Americas, taking place virtually through Thursday.


By 2024, 25 percent of traditional large enterprise CIOs will be held accountable for digital business operational results, effectively becoming “COO by proxy.”

After years of decline, the chief operating officer (COO) role is rising in prominence among born-digital companies.

A COO is an essential component for digital success, as they understand both the business and the ecosystem in which it operates.

The CIO, with an in-depth knowledge of the technology that facilitates business impact, can increase enterprise effectiveness by taking on components of the COO role to fuse technology and business goals.

As more CIOs become accountable for the enterprise’s digital performance results, the trend of CIOs in highly digitalized traditional businesses reporting to the CEO will become a flood.


By 2025, 75 percent of conversations at work will be recorded and analyzed, enabling the discovery of added organizational value or risk.

Conversations at work are shifting from traditional, real-time, face-to-face communications, to taking place over cloud meeting solutions, messaging platforms and virtual assistants. In most cases, such tools are keeping a digital record of those conversations.

Analytics of conversations happening in the workplace will be used to help enterprises comply with existing laws and regulations, and help them predict future performance and behavior.


By 2025, traditional computing technologies will hit a digital wall forcing the shift to new paradigms such as neuromorphic computing.

CIOs and IT executives will be unable to deliver on critical digital initiatives with current computing techniques. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision and speech recognition, which demand substantial computing power, will become pervasive, and general-purpose processors will be increasingly unsuitable for these digital innovations.


By 2024, 30 percent of digital businesses will mandate DNA storage trials, addressing the exponential growth of data poised to overwhelm existing storage technology.


By 2025, 40 percent of physical experience-based businesses will improve financial results and outperform competitors by extending into paid virtual experiences.

The capability of internet of things, digital twins and virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) is making the provision of immersive experience more attractive and affordable to a wider range of consumers.


By 2025, customers will be the first humans to touch more than 20 percent of the products and produce in the world.

New technologies are automating an increasing number of human tasks, a trend that has been hyper-accelerated by the pandemic. This leads to new opportunities to rethink product design, material use, plant locations and use of resources.


By 2025, customers will pay a freelance customer service expert to resolve 75 percent of their customer service needs.

CIOs must look to partner with freelance customer service professionals early on to reduce the customer experience, brand and monetization risks created by third-party customer service providers.


By 2024, 30 percent of major organizations will use a new “voice of society” metric to act on societal issues and assess the impacts to their business performance.


By 2023, large organizations will increase employee retention by more than 20 percent through repurposing office space as onsite childcare and education facilities.


By 2024 content moderation services for user generated content will be surveyed as a top CEO priority in 30 percent of large organizations.