Six Factors That CIOs Must Consider Before Embarking on Digital Transformation Journey

Digital Transformation requires planning and processes. Here’s a list of things that CIO’s who are the change makers for this initiative within their organization should consider before they start the transformation journey.

If you have been thinking about digital transformation, now is the time to go ahead. We are living in the most challenging economic conditions since the 2008 financial crisis and the present pandemic is far worse in every imaginable way. For companies to survive and thrive in the post-covid world, they need innovative thinking and processes.

The pandemic has hurt all businesses across the world and it may prompt businesses to pull back on new investment or even product development and that may not be a good idea. Uncertain times are always good for development and innovation. While we are not sure when the pandemic will end, one thing is for sure that companies will try to accelerate their digital transformation. Whatever be your digital transformation strategy, if you had planned it, now is the time to move ahead.

Growth Happens Through Innovation

Although every company talks about innovation, it is really difficult for companies to stay ahead of the curve. According to a recent study by McKinsey,  84% of executives it spoke to said innovation was crucial for growth and only 6% were happy with the performance of their company. Several others it interviewed said innovations in products and services did not bring any meaningful value to them. The reason behind this is that the executives had no clear idea about innovation and often confused innovation to creating a new product or service, which is not exactly right.

Changes in CIOs Role

In 2017, Gartner had surveyed more than 3000 CIOs across the world and over 95% of those surveyed said they expect their roles to be realigned or changed due to digitization and fast-changing technology.

As CIO, you will have to upgrade your knowledge and skills to stay relevant and redefine your skills in the fast-changing business and technology world and be able to take on challenges of the next few years.

Here are six important areas that a CIO must consider before embarking on a digital transformation journey.

Think from Business Point of View

To succeed in your role as a CIO you have to go beyond your domain expertise—you need to think from a business perspective like working on innovations, strategizing on business activities, and identifying opportunities to grow your business.

As you are in a position to decide your company’s digital initiative, that gives you the chance to focus on your company’s business strategy besides it being a major part of your company’s business. As a leader with the power to strategize, people in the C-level and peers look toward you as an important part of the business.

To succeed in your role as the digital business leader, you must show traits like:

  1. Leading from the front in upcoming and growing business functions and innovations.
  2. Investing in building a network of digital business capabilities that can nurture other divisions within and outside the company.
  3. Thinking ahead of what technologies to use when changes happen or are scheduled to happen.

Become Change Agents

When you lead the digital transformation process, you must also take over the role of a change agent. This means you need to convince the board or the leadership to invest in newer technologies, products, and services that will add value to the business, both in the short and long term.

While you are at it, you will also be expected to help your colleagues and others in the company through the digital transformation process. In all, starting from the top level to the mid-level, you will have to work with just about everyone that matters in the company.

To ensure the process of digital transformation is smooth, you must build a solid business relationship with the CEO as well as others around you. As a rule, most CIOs report directly to the CEO and this makes your job much easier as you don’t have to go through the hierarchy to get budgetary or other permissions.

Target Results or Outcomes

Digital transformation is not an overnight process. It is also not a very straightforward process. Not all digital transformation processes are an instant success, however, the ones that do succeed are always directed by results or outcomes. You need to give the freedom to people that are involved in the process to judge and decide when, where, and how to prioritize resource distribution and remove any thorns that are coming in the way.

To achieve better results, you need to give the team the freedom to respond to a technical crisis within a shorter time span and without delay. Also, have the hierarchy in place so that confusion can be avoided at all stages in terms of decision making and escalation matrix.

Commence with Existing IT Infrastructure

As the CIO, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you analyze and check if the existing infrastructure is enough for digital transformation. This is to ensure that your expenses are minimal and you get the best from whatever infrastructure you have.

Technology has made it easy to blend legacy infrastructure with new, however in some cases that’s not possible, in that case, it’s always better to talk to your vendor and get this sorted.

CIOs Must Bank on BI, AI, and Analytics

Business intelligence and analytics provide companies with rich data that they can use in many ways to grow their business. Today business intelligence and analytics have become an important part of digital transformation initiatives worldwide. You will have to tune yourself to think about and use data at all times to improve business and make accurate business judgments.

Take a Collaborative Approach

Collaboration is at the heart of every successful initiative— whether technical or non-technical. Any digital transformation project needs collaboration of every department as it has wider ramifications. As CIO you need to sit with department heads and bring them on board so that the initiative is successful.

Businesses are set to change once digital transformation is actioned within your organization. As the CIO, your role would be the key in how organizations adapt to changes, and to excel in this initiative, you must become an enabler.

You will also have to look at AI and Data to back your transformation plan as they will help you with business intelligence, cybersecurity, and analytics as these are key to your plan.

Lastly, you have to get into the right communication mode to get backing for your initiative and overcome any resistance.