Virtual CIO Services

What staff and skills do you need to enable digital transformation?

Posted on May 5, 2020

Estimated reading time 5 minutes

You can’t ignore the current agenda – 55% of companies without a digital transformation believe they have less than a year before they start to lose market share. The time to act really is now.

The pace of change, new markets, competitive environments and customer demands, mean that companies can no longer afford to sit back and wait. They need to react quickly and demonstrate they’re capable of adapting.

Many organisations instinctively turn to the IT department to enable their transformation for the modern era. According to research from Gartner, 62% of digital transformation programmes reside within the IT function.

But digital technologies simply provide ‘possible’ improvements around efficiency, productivity and experience. In order to achieve a successful transformation, organisations must consider them alongside their people and processes. It’s why in reality digital transformation isn’t about technology, it’s about the business as a whole.

Successful digital transformation is reliant on a highly focused leadership team

When you have the right people engaged in key roles to ensure collaboration between the business functions, McKinsey believes your digital transformation project is 1.8x more likely to succeed.

Getting the ‘right people’ in place can mean re-structuring or tweaking the management layer before embarking on the necessary changes in order for them to be accepted into business-as-usual. Nearly 70% of organisations report changing their top team during the transformation process.

It might seem scary, particularly when job security worries are rife anyway during periods of change, but it’s actually a good thing. Redefining the roles and responsibilities so they align with your digital transformation goals helps to clarify what capabilities your organisation needs to thrive in the modern age. For your people, this could involve taking on more/less/new responsibilities, and it potentially opens up opportunities for new training and development.

But who are the ‘right people’?

Leading the digital transformation agenda

Around 40% of companies have dedicated digital transformation teams in place. It’s perhaps unsurprising to learn that as the person responsible for leading the organisation, 84% of CEOs are also involved in, and committed to transformational change.

In addition, the CISO is also heavily involved in shaping the digital transformational agenda. Responsible for maintaining cyber security when procuring and adopting new technologies into the existing IT infrastructure, it’s of paramount importance to maintain this status quo during a period of change to prevent exposing the organisation.

The new roles created by the digital transformation agenda

At the middle-management level, new strategic roles, including Head of Digital Transformation, Head of Technology Transformation and Head of Innovation, are being created. These individuals resume responsibility for facilitating specific areas of the transformation agenda.

But in the C-suite, digital transformation has created important new senior positions, such as the Chief Digital Officer (CDO). An evangelist who brings immense enthusiasm to the transformation agenda, the CDO could potentially replace the role of CEO during the process, freeing up the CEO to retain oversight of the entire organisation. Research from McKinsey indicates that companies with a CDO increase their chance of a success by 1.6x.

The roles changed by the digital transformation agenda

While some roles have seen minor tweaks, such as the CSO whose training now includes new skills about how to interact with the wider business, the role that’s changed most is the CIO.

83% of CIOs believe their role has become more strategic over the last 3 years ago. Traditionally the role has focused on issues such as infrastructure maintenance and compliance because technology has been confined to the realm of the IT department. But now we live and work in the digital era where technology is our life.

With 25% of CIOs taking greater control over digital transformation initiatives, the role has evolved to become increasingly aligned with business issues. 

Rather than focus on technology alone, the CIO is now expected to bridge the gap between IT and the rest of the business. A bit like a marriage counsellor, their job is to listen to the needs and requirements, helping both sides of the business to speak a common language and work towards a common outcome.

It requires CIO to change 3 things:

  • Modernising IT: investing in deeper industry domain knowledge and relationships.
  • The mind-set of the IT organisation: delivering a seamless operating environment through accelerating the company’s journey to automation and the cloud.
  • The organisational structure: increasing the organisation’s agility and speed to take advantage of new opportunities.

It’s achieved through:
Questioning process

In most organisations the CIO is not responsible for a line on the company’s profit and loss so in many respects they can be viewed as impartial since they have no financial agenda. This means they have the ability to ask potentially difficult and painful questions that challenge the status quo and force the senior leadership team to consider the longer-term outlook for the organisation.

Researching technology

The CIO must sit at the bleeding edge of new technology, aware of every new development and innovation, evaluating if/how it could benefit the business and able to articulate the value it does/doesn’t bring. They need to be aware of the alternatives, the overlaps and the potential partnerships that would support the organisation’s digital transformation programme.

Managing people

Required to deal with both IT and business stakeholders, the CIO needs to be able to listen to both side’s objections, fears and ideas, empathise with their situation and clearly communicate the way forward. At times this will mean negotiating to come to an amicable conclusion, and sometimes it will require them to make an ‘executive decision’.

Access the skills your business needs for digital transformation

Translating technology into business value is something we have specialised in for the last 10 years. When we started out, we knew how important it was for every business to be a technology business in order to take advantage of modern working practices that present the organisation with new opportunities.

As part of our core mentality to be ‘addicted to service’ we have created a new Virtual CIO Service, which enables you to leverage our specialist skills, knowledge and experience without having the delays and investment required to upskill internally.

Choose our Virtual CIO Service and you will receive:

  • Strategic planning: understanding your business and forming a realistic and achievable strategy that works for you.
  • Technology roadmap: a clearly defined 1-3 year plan to ensure you have the right tools for your business, including recommendations on how to make the most of your existing technologies.
  • Budgeting: analysing your IT spend to optimise your investments and reduce unnecessary costs.
  • Security and compliance management: advice on how to harden your security posture against cyber threats and meet the requirements of legislation, such as GDPR.

Or discover more about leading digital transformation in our whitepaper on Digital Transformation.

How can we help?

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