In order to support the all-encompassing digital transformation your business needs, the classic role of the CIO must evolve. From a focus on operations, the new CIO must be more deeply involved in the business and provide the data and digital tools needed for true transformation.
As a CIO, you have no choice but to take on a new role. Digitalization and technological innovation are in explosive development and fundamentally changing the way companies need to be run - not just in product development and marketing, but also in C-level positions.
It is up to the CIO to guide the company away from digital experimentation, and instead ensure that digital best practices are deeply rooted in the business.
With the rise of Cloud computing, it is possible to outsource much of the operational and maintenance work that usually fills the CIO's to-do list. The new focus should instead be on ensuring a proper balance between on-premise and Cloud, to leverage the flexibility and speed provided by the cloud without compromising stability, compliance and security.
The CIO must also ensure that digitalization is deeply rooted throughout the organization and supporting the senior management's digital commitment. In other words, the role of the CIO has changed from a delivery executive to a business executive.
From digital experimentation to digital transformation
The companies that have the greatest success with digital transformation – called digital leaders – generally experience greater profit and growth. They also typically have a CIO who manages to work strategically and collaborates with both senior and departmental managers.
It is essential that the IT department never gets too comfortable in its own little world, but is instead visible throughout the organization, and always ready to put their skills to good use. It should champion design thinking, agile methods and build bridges to an ecosystem of external partners and advisors. Not only will this help to ensure that digital efforts are deeply rooted in the organization, but it will also highlight the need to incorporate new technology into all parts of the organization.
The CIO as a digital coach
It is the job of the CIO to assume digital leadership by educating and motivating the other C-level leaders about the opportunities that technology brings. You might see the CIO as the company’s digital coach. But what exactly does this involve? The digital coach needs to:
- Visualize the digital future by drawing on examples from similar companies and industries.
- Integrate IT employees into the rest of the organization to promote on-the spot job training.
- Create a common IT language which is non-technical, easy to understand and relevant for all employees.
- Work closely together with the CMO, product development manager, and other C-level leaders, and be willing to understand and support their needs and experiences.
- Promote both formal and informal digital learning by working together on training and development.
- Set digital KPIs that individual managers can easily relate to in their performance reviews.
- Draw on experience and know-how from external experts who can point to particular trends and opportunities with potential to drive the business forward – for example by setting up (and listening to) a digital advisory board.
- Ensure security and compliance in all aspects of the business IT. Security and compliance must never be an afterthought or considered an add-on, but instead be built into the foundation of all digital initiatives.
Release IT resources
When IT moves its focus from operations to business, you should be able to rely on your business systems to run operations. A Cloud solution, such as Dynamics 365, frees up working hours in the organization – especially for the IT department because the CIO and its employees can minimize the time spent on the system software, operating system and database, implementation of regular patches, and software upgrades.
It is important to note that digital transformation should not be an IT project, but rather driven by an organizational management culture, which focuses on utilizing technology in all aspects of the organization and by all employees – management in particular.