Radu Crahmaliuc
Radu Crahmaliuc 13 April 2016
Categories Technology

Six Reasons for Why CIOs Should be Conductors of Digital Transformation Symphony

​Ten years ago any second slide from any IT corporate presentation started with inevitable title: “Networking Industry Challenges”… Five years ago the same introductory slide started with: “Internet resources challenges”. Now, every 8 from 10 corporate presentations from all industries are using as introductory buzz: “Digital transformation challenges”…

It’s interesting the digital transformation tsunami looks to disrupt in the same way all companies, from any industry, but IT providers are affected first of all. From the managerial perspective, the responsibilities for “What are next?” be involving at the same time CEOs, CFOs, CDOs, but first of all CIOs…

How is disrupted the CIO role in organization level? The disruption power of digital waves is leading CIOs to fundamentally change the traditional technologies issues. Until yesterday the main CIOs attribution was more related to IT operations management, packaged software deployment, security prevention and risk minimization, having as main goals the general systems stability and cost reduction. Today CIOs are forced to embrace a more expansive view of their roles, involving direct participation in company’s revenues increasing, customer experience improving and digital strategy shaping.

Who should conduct digital transformation process? Analyst community is still divided discussing the main role in the digital economy. While majority opinion shows that CEOs should have the main contribution in digital vision and strategy establishment, it is clear that the major role in the transformation process coordination should be played by CIOs.

Looking to the business implication at organization level, it’s hard to see the limits. The goals for different departments should be aligned internally like general strategy, operational issues and process evaluation also. At the same time, the leader who establishes the vision and strategy needs strong technology knowledge and a clear understanding of transformation processes as well.

Anyway the biggest issues in CIO’s leadership will be focusing on digital business needs function of the organization’s capabilities and resources availability.  

According IDC FutureScape: Worldside CIO Agenda 2016 Predictions”, 66% of CEOs plan to focus on digital transformation strategies for 2016 having in CIOs the major players in leading every department through this shift. The same report shows not many CIOs are confident in their managerial skills, only 25% being confident in how they will drive new digital streams.

Organizations have to solve now this dilemma: CEOs need CIOs in conducting role of business transformation process but CIO’s majority looks to be not ready for this demanding role. Without CIO’s technology skills a company will have not the power to adopt the key drivers of digital transformations: innovation, integration and incorporation.

While digital transformation is crucial on business success IDC predicts that by 2018, 70% of digital transformation initiatives could ultimately fail because of „ insufficient collaboration, integration, and sourcing or project management. In order to have successful digital transformation in a company, the same study shows „leaders need to encourage cross-functional collaboration around digital initiative”. IT teams will also need to use the “maturity it has achieved in agile project management, integrated service management and enterprise security to support the transformation engine,” according IDC.

How CIOs should conduct digital transformation in the enterprises? Synthesizing the main research conclusions we can discuss about six essential powers CIOs needs to win in today’s digital transformation war:

  • Digital strategy – CIO must be able to articulate a coherent digital strategy, aligned with business objectives and to make that well understood at organization level;
  • Technology innovative leader: will continue to be the main charge of any CIO able to build and deploy the basic high-tech requirements;
  • Transformation leader – CIO will play a key role in digital business vision, helping to align digital initiatives with business goals;
  • Leadership abilities – any CIO should have a leading position in the strategy setting and execution;
  • Operational and financial knowledge – CIO should understand and assimilate the better cost of digital processes, being able to estimate ROI metrics;
  • Establishing and deploying process standards – is also critical to IT to deliver into digital business potential.

Are CIOs prepared for transformation leadership role? Big majority of researches are showing a negative answer. What we have gone to do in such a short time? The better solution is to assist CIOs with digital transformation consultancy support. Are CIOs opens up this assistance? They don’t have too many to choose if they want to be digital transformation drivers for their organizations.

Could be CIOs good managers? This is function of their entrepreneurial skills and the opening on business metrics. Statistics shows more than 40% CIOs are ready to become CEOs in the next few years. This is part of business transformation process. In IT and other technical industries the limits of CEO’s and CIO’s competences are not so important. In other industries we can assume a lot of CIOs having managerial and economic skills, but average CEO’s technical level is under the understanding limits. This is the reason for the lack of reaction to digital changes in large categories of managers.

Could we teach CIOs in digital technologies? The answer should be definitively yes: CIOs has the technical skill to understand the innovation and to promote the value of change.

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