Digital transformation is the business buzzword du jour, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Digital transformation is the strategic leveraging of digital technologies to change business processes, activities, and competencies, while at the same time evolving business culture to adapt to these changes. As data initiatives (and IT in general) become more widely integrated across companies, CIOs are finding themselves playing—actually, captaining—a whole new ball game. What exactly is the CIO’s role in the technology part of the digital transformation process, and what does it take to succeed? Let’s explore.
Leadership Skills for CIO Success
Leading digital transformation in the enterprise requires a special set of skills, and I’ll touch on those relevant to CIOs in a moment. Before we get there, it’s important to make one thing very clear: CIOs have a long list of responsibilities, and they don’t walk away from those just because they’re involved in the digital transformation process for a company. In other words, being CIO and leading a company through digital initiatives aren’t mutually exclusive—there’s still a need for all the knowledge and expertise CIOs signed up to provide, and they’ll have to be filled within an organization in some way to keep the company running on all cylinders. With that in mind, today’s CIO (or their teams) must still do the following:
- Advise executives on technology trends and propose new initiatives, enabling other c-suite leaders with the real-time insight they need to make strategic decisions.
- Provide reliable IT services to all departments and employees.
- Drive business value by leveraging technology across silos, consistently leading with an agile and collaborative approach.
- Ensure IT security at all times, protecting the data assets and private information of internal and external stakeholders.
Now, onto digital transformation. On top of that already substantial list of responsibilities, the digital age requires even more of CIOs. They must be adaptable to change at a rapid rate, always interested in learning, and embracing innovation with the heart of an entrepreneur. Plus, it helps if they not only love data but also know how to use it to deliver maximum benefit to the organization. Data for the sake of data alone delivers no value. The ability to collect and analyze data that leads to valuable insight—that’s what you’re looking for. CIOs who want to lead the pack must also be visionaries and expert communicators who are willing to inspire and lead others down the digital transformation path.
Digital Transformation as an Opportunity for CIOs
Because digital transformation touches so many parts of a business, it can understandably overwhelm CIOs used to the status quo. But leading the process of digital transformation within an organization presents a tremendous challenge—and opportunity— for the CIO. Being bold, constantly analyzing and evaluating the business value of each proposed change, understanding the value that innovation and agility bring, and being able to put it all together for peers within the organization is what’s needed. Even better, leading with ROI/best business case mentality is like future-proofing IT and the role of both the CIO and the whole IT team play within the organization. For CIOs, digital transformation is an exciting time to reimagine themselves and their roles in a world of unending digital disruption. It’s too exciting a time to let inaction or resistance to change render CIOs obsolete.
One More Thing . . .
You may have noticed that we write a lot about digital transformation both here at Converge and also on V3B, our adjacent property in the digital marketing space. Why? Because we’re on a continual mission to find what’s important to your business and dig the actionable ‘so whats’ out of big concepts. The thing is that digital transformation isn’t just a big concept—it’s a big new way of doing business—and we want to help you win at it. In that spirit, my colleague Daniel Newman co-authored a book on the subject this year aimed at putting companies like yours on the path to sustainable, scalable digital excellence. I suggest you check it out here: Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy.
If you’re like me, you’re looking at digital transformation as an opportunity for CIOs to turn IT into strategic enterprise value creation vehicles. (Goodbye, business silos! Hello, business case!) I’m curious—what’s your take on digital transformation? How has it touched your business so far? What can CIOs do more—or less—of to make the process smoother? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”