How CIOs can drive digital transformation effectively

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Many people believe “digital transformation” is not an “IT” thing. While this may have been true when applied to last century’s typical IT group, its should not be true in 2018.

To be fair to anyone who believes IT cannot lead digital transformation, I’m referring to a new kind of IT: The technology team of 2018 must be capable of accelerating digital transformation across the organization. In some companies, the CIO may well be natural champion of digital transformation. But, to be successful, the CIO must still win the support of the CEO and the rest of the executive team. And even if the CIO is driving the transformation, it must be a company-wide effort, not something that exists only within the CIOs’ operational silo.

Digital transformation requires the design and creation of new technology capabilities across the business. Many of these new capabilities will exist outside of IT. Alongside the creation of these new business capabilities, CIOs must also reshape the technology team to nurture and grow the application of technology as a strategic asset of the business. Most significantly, technology will contribute to the creation of customer value and future revenue growth.

This CIO is not your CIO of the past century. Indeed, it is not unusual for today’s modern CIO to be given the title of Chief Digital Officer/CIO or even just CDO. Alongside new leadership thinking at the helm of the technology team comes some often significant cultural and structural changes to make the tech team more responsive to the business and end customer needs. In fact today’s modern digitally-savvy IT team is more like yesterday’s eCommerce team.

CIOs driving such transformations implement a raft of changes within IT to help shift their organization into digital accelerator mode:

In short, a modern IT team is customer obsessed, business oriented, fast and focused.

IF you have this kind of IT, then yes, IT can help drive your digital transformation and the CIO can possibly lead it. (Note: You probably don’t have this kind of IT yet).

Maybe this modern IT shop will evolve into a new name, just as MIS evolved into IT (or ICT outside of the US) – maybe IT will evolve to be simply Digital or Technology?

What do you think? Drop me a Tweet @NigelFenwick

(This post originally appeared on the Forrester Research blog, which can be viewed here).

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