Pattern-based strategy

March 23, 2010
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Tom Austin opened day 2 with a discussion of pattern-based strategies. How, he asks, did the world get so many things so wrong- the financial meltdown, the growth of terrorism etc. Enterprises have an illusion that they control their own destiny, that business stability is the norm and that technology is the answer. But network complexity and uncertainty impact this and make a pattern-based approach critical in Gartner’s opinion.  Gartner sees IT moving through various eras, each increasing the size of the ecosystem and decreasing the degree of control.

  • Automation
  • Augmentation 
  • Knowledge workers
  • e-commerce
  • Collective
  • Pattern-seeking

The world in which we are operating is different. We suffer from various illusions including an Illusion of control – as companies have become more distributed and involve more complex interactions with partners, distribution channels etc you have less control, though you still need to understand what is happening. In this kind of complex environment you can easily get cascade failures or, indeed, cascade successes. Finally we have an illusion of stability, we avoid thinking about black swans


Tom Austin opened day 2 with a discussion of pattern-based strategies. How, he asks, did the world get so many things so wrong- the financial meltdown, the growth of terrorism etc. Enterprises have an illusion that they control their own destiny, that business stability is the norm and that technology is the answer. But network complexity and uncertainty impact this and make a pattern-based approach critical in Gartner’s opinion.  Gartner sees IT moving through various eras, each increasing the size of the ecosystem and decreasing the degree of control.

  • Automation
  • Augmentation 
  • Knowledge workers
  • e-commerce
  • Collective
  • Pattern-seeking

The world in which we are operating is different. We suffer from various illusions including an Illusion of control – as companies have become more distributed and involve more complex interactions with partners, distribution channels etc you have less control, though you still need to understand what is happening. In this kind of complex environment you can easily get cascade failures or, indeed, cascade successes. Finally we have an illusion of stability, we avoid thinking about black swans – very unexpected, almost “impossible” events. In particular we tend to focus on the norm and ignore the outliers.

Pattern-based strategies are Gartner’s response to this complexity. Patterns could impact strategy or operations and could be a response to risks or opportunities. The approach requires:

  • Pattern seeking-Looking for outliers, coincident information
  • Performance-driven culture? Looking to future-facing metrics to replace backward looking ones
  • Operational tempo advantage- Become a more real-time organization
  • Transparency- Make more information available to more people to increase your ability to spot novel patterns

IT is clearly critical to detecting patterns, tracking and presenting future-facing performance metrics, running in real-time and improving transparency.

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