Skip to main content

Gartner Symposium 2014: CIOs need to embrace digital humanism to put people first

Analysts at Gartner have created the Digital Humanist Manifesto in order to help CIOs determine what they can do and what they should do with new technologies.

The principles that make up the manifesto emphasise the importance of the human moments at the heart of any digital innovation.

Read more: Survey: CEOs value personal relevance and ethics when choosing IT suppliers

Research vice president at Gartner Frank Buytendijk explained that in order for a more people-focused approach to flourish, IT leaders need to seek out and nurture soft skills.

"Digital humanists believe that technology is there to put people at the centre. To enable them to do things they want to do, or what they don't know is possible," he said. "The virtue of technology comes out of being able to help people realise their ambitions. The digital humanist thinks in terms of behaviours, emotions and interactions, not traditional processes."

Buytendijk also predicted that IT staff will increasingly look to employees from a wider range of backgrounds, including ethicists, anthropologists and sociologists to ensure people are the focus of new technologies.

The Digital Humanist Manifesto includes three core beliefs to shift organisations' focus from business-centric to people-centric.

The first principle for CIOs to follow is to embrace unpredictability. By listening to and observing the user responses to new technologies, the business can benefit from new products, new brand ambassadors, new markets and competitive differentiation.

Similarly, IT leaders need to put people at the centre of all designs, not by asking them what they want but by observing what they do. Protecting the personal space of users is also a key consideration, meaning that privacy should be considered throughout the entire life cycle of a product or service.

Read more: Smart cities and big data: Is there a limit to what we should know?

Ultimately, Mr Buytendijk stressed the importance of digital humanism as a means to resolve the conflict that arises when the machinist approach begins to neglect the ethical considerations of technological growth.