MIT Sloan CIO Symposium preview: Gap between digital leaders, laggards widens

Are you in the thick of the digital transformation race? Upcoming conference will share lessons from leaders on digital culture, AI, and more
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“Up Your Digital Game,” the theme of the upcoming MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, sends a clear message to IT leaders: The time for getting started or simply “thinking digital” has passed. CIOs who haven’t yet moved from vision to execution may find themselves falling further and further behind every year, says Lindsey Anderson, chair of the Symposium.

“I believe the future belongs to the doers; if you haven’t started your business’ digital transformation, it may be too late,” says Anderson.

[ See our in-depth guide to digital transformation for IT leaders, for advice on culture change, best practices, and related topics. ] 

The gap between companies that have implemented their digital transformations and those that have not is getting wider, Anderson explains. If you are lagging now, it will be increasingly difficult to catch up.

“In 2016, MIT Sloan research (Leading Digital) found that companies thriving in the digital economy were 26 percent more profitable than their industry peers,” he says. “The successful companies in the study had the opportunity to invest their higher profits in the next wave of digital innovations, enabling them to potentially pull even further ahead of their peers.”

Does he think catching up to these early innovators is impossible? Yes, and no.

[ See our top book recommendations from MIT Press and MIT CIO Symposium speakers, then enter our contest for a chance to win a book 

“I believe 'yes' for the companies that haven’t started implementing anything yet because digital transformation is extremely difficult,” says Anderson. “Many, probably most, companies fail in their first iteration. However, there is still time for companies that have tried with limited results to succeed at digital innovation.”

That’s where the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium comes in. It’s a must-attend event for CIOs and IT leaders because it combines MIT’s academic thought leadership with the in-the-trenches experiences of CIOs. This year’s symposium will focus on helping companies make that critical leap from vision to execution, or from the first successful stage of their  transformation to the next.

According to Anderson, this year's symposium agenda will offer insights on:

  • Developing cultures that can compete with – and surpass – digital native companies
  • Identifying four distinct business models that help firms clarify where they stand in the digital business landscape
  • Exploring the future of work in a world of AI, machine learning, and automation
  • Implementing AI
  • Realizing synergies from digital innovations
  • Closing the gap between strategy and execution
  • Mapping the future of the IT unit

In the weeks leading up to the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, we will feature insights from speakers on our site. The event takes place May 23, 2018, in Cambridge, MA. For the full agenda or to register, visit

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Carla Rudder is a community manager and program manager for The Enterprisers Project. She enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.