Do you know your ETA from your elbow?

Profile picture for user gonzodaddy By Den Howlett November 2, 2018
What is your attitude toward technology adoption? We checked out the Gartner ETA and came up with interesting and, at times, puzzling results. They're the stuff of a good conversation.

gartner ETA
Earlier in the week, Jon Reed pinged me with this Gartner story; The Road to Gartner’s Enterprise Technology Adoption Profiles (and the road ahead) Now - normally I'm not a huge fan of Gartner but I do like Hank Barnes who is the author of the story and one of the authors of the Gartner explanation behind ETA.

The TL;DR version: ETA helps categorize firms according to their attitude towards technology adoption. It uses a quasi Myers-Briggs approach which some may find a tad funky as a hotly debated personality test method.

As I read through Barnes explanation around how Gartner's ETA model has evolved it struck me that it would be a useful exercise for each of the core diginomica team to run the free for anyone seven question thingy and then compare results.

I asked that none of the team share their results but simply email them over to me. I did that in an effort to run a blind test where each individual would not be influenced by anyone else's answers. The reason for that is that we try to avoid groupthink but at the same time I wanted to better understand if we are on the same page from both a business perspective and how that aligns with how we view our technology stack.

I had no idea what to expect but the results speak for themselves. I'm not going to name who 'scored' what except to say one wag decided that McDonalds is a good alternative to diginomica as the name of the organization. Not sure we'd all want to be on board with that but heh, no harm in a little humor in an industry that has gotten a bad rap in recent times.

One thing that's vitally important to understanding these analyses - there are no right or wrong answers and, I suspect, given another day and time, the answers will be different again.

So - here ya go - and yes, they've been randomized as well.

digi ETA


So what's interesting about this - here is the analysis from left to right as determined by Gartner's algorithm.

  • SCD (Grounded)
  • FID (Adaptive)
  • ACR (Judicious)
  • SIR (Disciplined)
  • SCD (Grounded)

And here is Gartner's explanation for each TLA:

SCD (Grounded) — SCD enterprises are strict planners, take a collaborative approach to the technology agenda and are dynamic in their pace of change. They are long-term planners that want technologies that help them lead the market. These enterprises eschew technology fads. They are strict in their planning and execution of the enterprise’s technology goals, but open to new technologies that fit their plans. Technology budgets are generous, predictable and set for the longer term. These enterprises expect that their infrastructure will support new business opportunities with minimal rework. As a result, conformity to standards is high. At the same time, they will adopt new technologies readily — as long as they fit within their leadership’s plans and do not overly disrupt their existing infrastructure.

FID (Adaptive) — FID enterprises are flexible planners, take an IT-led approach to the technology agenda and are dynamic in their pace of change They are the most agile and quick to react to new technology or business opportunities. Technology budgets are typically set annually, usually from a zero baseline, and are generous enough to accommodate special projects that occur during the year. The CIO and his or her team are usually highly empowered to make technology decisions with little oversight, provided the enterprise maintains an ability to implement new technology and business processes. Speed to market is of greater importance than risk, stability or adherence to existing standards. Of all the personalities, they are the most open to the widest variety of technologies, architectures and approaches to both business and IT.

ACR (Judicious) — ACR enterprises are accommodating in planning, take a collaborative approach to the technology agenda and are responsive in their pace of change. They are balanced and reasoned in their approach to IT; budgets and business goals guide decision making. Technology planning tends to be in the two- to three-year timeframe, with goals and objectives regularly reviewed. The CIO is usually given full control over strictly IT and infrastructure issues and has a seat at the table for business-led technology planning. Disruptions to business plans are more easily accommodated than disruptions to technology plans. However, given sufficient cause, both are possible.

SIR (Disciplined) — SIR enterprises are strict planners, take an IT-led approach to the technology agenda and are responsive in their pace of change. They are pragmatic in their approach to technology adoption. They are usually led by a strong CIO with a lengthy tenure in IT. They are very strict and long-term in their technology planning. This level of control and planning does not put them behind in technology, but their goal is to achieve a balanced response to new technology and reliable infrastructure.

OK - so almost all of these results surprised me in one way or another.

My take

At first blush, three of the pyramids appear to be similar in shape and size yet the algorithm determined a different result. The one marked FID totally surprised me since it doesn't reflect what I believe about the person. Which just goes to show how wrong you can be. Similarly, I was surprised by my own assessment as it doesn't quite fit my technology worldview. But then I can see the logic behind the assessment. One of the team noted that while he thought the assessment reflected his view, it doesn't reflect where he'd like us to be. That's the start of an interesting conversation. More important, it allows each of us to consider what we need to change in order for overall alignment.

Overall, it seems to me there is a remarkable degree of alignment in our collective thinking. Of course there will always be kinks that need ironing out and disagreements on detail, but by and large, we're more or less on the same page. That's important because as we evolve, change, add, and take away from our technology stack, it's vital that everyone is on board with the general sense of direction even if it needs course-correcting a degree or two, left or right.

Without that, we (and every other business I can think of) is lost. And in that, I believe Gartner is fulfilling an important requirement among our industry users with this type of assessment.