Communication, C-suite engagement and continuous change: Key digital transformation tips for CIOs

Across all industries and sectors, the use of technology to revolutionise the way business is done has become pervasive. But undertaking digital transformation in this way is a long-term project and often one that includes various hurdles and obstacles unique to each individual organisation. It is the role of the CIO (with the support of the board) to address these challenges and ensure the project is a success.

With this in mind, the tips below aim to help CIOs and IT executives ensure that their digital transformation project runs smoothly.

Become an ambassador for digital change

The most effective digital transformation projects are underpinned by a solid business case for change. Once the business benefits of the project have been identified, it is the role of the CIO to facilitate the adaptation of the company. But it is also important to remember that this kind of digital change has a direct impact on the role of the CIO moving forward. This reinforces the need for CIOs to take a leading role in projects of this nature from start to finish and collaborate with leadership colleagues across the enterprise.

Align closely with corporate goals

Because digital transformation projects are so specific to the individual organisation, CIOs must have a clear vision of the objectives from the very beginning as well as the business outcomes the organization wants to achieve. In order for this to be possible, they must first have a comprehensive overview of the current business model and working methods. This is essential because it allows the impact of the project on individual departments to be understood and accounted for. Of course, the scope of this impact will vary dependent on the current level of digitisation within the business – traditional businesses will have a much steeper learning curve than cloud-based startups.

Communicate effectively with business leaders

In addition to having a clear understanding of how digital transformation will affect internal departments, CIOs must be able to establish a beneficial dialogue and ‘sell’ the benefits of the project to department leads. Establishing buy-in from influential business leaders early in the project not only makes the implementation easier, but it also helps in terms of recording and quantifying early indicators of success.

Make gradual but continuous change

Even when equipped with a clear vision of the project from the outset, there is an element of trial and error for most digital transformation projects. However, this should never put the business at risk. Instead, the project should be flexible enough that different methods of achieving the established objectives can be used, allowing the organisation to innovate and drive more forward-thinking digital services that deliver maximum value to employees and customers.

Scale solutions effectively

Once the best method of digital change for a particular business function has been identified and tested in a trial scenario, it is ready for wider implementation. For this to be effective, the solution must be able to scale across target audiences for optimum success. Launching new digital services and applications must be carefully orchestrated, regularly observed and updated if necessary to ensure the best performance results.

Mitigating digital failure

Customers and end-users expect to be able to interact with an organisation and its digital applications on demand. As a result, they are less tolerant of any kind of functional failure than ever. Organisations are struggling to maintain agility with their current infrastructure, as shown by a recent survey from Riverbed, whereby 97 percent of CIOs say their legacy networks will have difficulty keeping pace with changing demands of the cloud.

To avoid the risks of a digital catastrophe, companies need to ensure that their network is able to support any new projects effectively. In many cases, this will require significant investment and a shift towards a software-defined working model. And beyond this, the CIO must have clear visibility over the experience of the end-users who are interacting with the network, so that any potential issues can be identified and mitigated as quickly as possible.

C-suite engagement in digital success

Once a digital transformation project has been signed off, every executive in the organisation has a vested interest in its success. And culturally, digital transformation has never been higher on the priority list for companies across all sectors. In part, this increased awareness has been the catalyst for the creation of new roles, such as the Chief Digital Officer (CDO).

However, the emergence of these new roles should not be perceived as a threat to the CIO. Instead, it should be viewed as an opportunity to take control of the digital agenda within a business, and play a more significant role in shaping the overall direction and vision for the company.

Plan for long-term success

Digital transformation is an ongoing journey that will evolve and develop over time, shaped by the progression and development of new technology. In today’s digital era, a CIO’s work is never done – they must continue to keep key stakeholders on board with progress and ensure that their organisation always takes advantage of the most effective solutions and strategies to secure continued growth and success.

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