Friday, September 22, 2023

Essential Skills CIOs Need to Lead Digital Transformation

By Swapnil Mishra - June 15, 2023 8 Mins Read

Essential Skills CIOs Need to Lead Digital Transformation

CIOs must support organizational structures that effectively need some of the key skills. For digital transformation, they help to speed up the pace of cross-collaboration and innovation that digital transformation demands

Having the right skills is crucial for businesses, but given the fluidity of the industry, these skills go beyond technical proficiency. Forward-thinking companies are increasingly aware of the need to hire for aptitudes rather than skills.

According to Gartner’s Board of Directors 2023 Survey, 89% of enterprises view digital business as essential to their expansion. This proves that digital transformation is a cornerstone of modern business strategy.

This data emphasizes the need for organizations to accept change and have a more flexible and forward-looking approach to digital transformation. Technical skills, in the opinion of the majority of business executives, are most important to support digital transformation.

Critical business competencies like cost, product, and vendor management are equally important. They help key leadership and culture capabilities like change management, strategy building, and business relationship management.

Essential abilities for driving transformation

The combination of skills needed to succeed here shares a common theme. They focus on delivering value to the business and ensuring the investment is profitable. That may be the problem.

Despite the competitive market, organizations have access to plenty of technical talent, including developers, builders of infrastructure, and cloud experts. The technical teams and the leadership must work together to introduce process innovation and automation into the company. They must use technology to reduce costs and speed up customer deliveries.

These are different types of talent, where connections, an understanding of business agreements, and thorough industry knowledge are all essential. But they also need an understanding of the complexity and technical requirements to some extent.

Here are the essential skills for digital success and how they fit into ongoing digital advancement.

Explore Untapped Potential and Look Past Sector Boundaries

What Gartner refers to as “digital dragons” who actively seek value outside of any particular industry. They develop entirely new sectors while redefining value in any endeavor they pursue, personifying this leadership quality. Plans for digital adoption and strategies are frequently created exclusively due to a market disruption mindset.

Instead of considering their industry to be static, effective digital leaders see threats as not always distinct. They make decisions while maintaining a clear vision of the future of their sector.

Also Read: CIOs’ Playbook to Offense and Defense: Rising Cloud Costs

Selecting the proper technology

The company’s software is just one aspect of digital transformation. If CIOs need to accelerate the transformation process, they must find the right technology. One way to steer clear of pitfalls during the transition is to hire managed IT services from seasoned providers.

Deciding on the best technology to support digital growth can be difficult. Many suggestions are available to assist management in selecting the best technology for expanding their businesses. All of the firm’s identified needs should be satisfied by new technologies.

A customized end-user experience and cloud and mobile strategies should be the main focus of new projects and initiatives. Before implementation, management should test the technologies. The successful implementation of digital transformation depends on testing new technologies.

Laying the Foundations for the Future

Where companies are in their journeys heavily influences the skills necessary for digital success. Technology skills are crucial during the initial foundational stage when IT integrates data and systems and develops digital platforms. Cloud architecture is the foundation for scalable, economical, and agile IT infrastructure supporting digital transformation.

Data literacy is also essential. It is important to get the concept right from the start. This may include choosing the appropriate technologies, comprehending how things will scale, offering resilience, and how data will move through to the solution.

Given the evolution of digital strategies, integration has grown in value. Early stages of digital transformation focused on investigating and funding cutting-edge technologies. The focus right now is on consolidating, improving, and growing these digital initiatives.

Businesses are focusing on creating seamless integration across various business units and functions. At the same time, they are integrating digital solutions into their core operations, service offerings, and products.

Planning for potential new opportunities

The most crucial skills for fostering ongoing digital innovation are categorically non-technical. To navigate the complexities of digital transformation, organizations must foster and develop leadership, strategic planning, communication, and creativity skills across levels and roles.

These abilities enable long-term success in an increasingly digital environment by encouraging a culture of innovation, collaboration, and resilience. Future-oriented analytics teams are looking for individuals with a strategic mindset. They must display a capacity to pose inquiries that the business may not be equipped to address. In addition, they need the expertise to integrate digital technology into specific business use cases.

The key product management skills that will drive this digital pivot are comprehending all unmet needs and demands, prioritizing which questions to focus on first, seizing the opportunity, and executing.

Promoting change

The business application of that foundation is what the next stage of digital transformation entails. The failure to reach the level of adoption required for success is one of the main issues here. Businesses can overcome resistance, streamline processes, and lessen negative effects during the transition by using effective change management.

However, it is a common misconception that change management is merely a task to cross off a project to-do list. The key in this situation is to over communicate while delving deeply into the issues to remove any obstacles. In reality, change leadership is the key; change management skills are only a portion of the solution.

Change leadership is more about actively encouraging business expansion. It involves expansive thinking. Create procedures for educating, motivating, and empowering employees to innovate and contribute to the company’s growth rather than setting up an innovation department.


Being decisive on its own is insufficient. A strong technology leader must be adaptable in their approach. Leaders have less time to evaluate and comprehend every aspect of a decision because the pace of change is no longer linear. As a result, CIOs tend to make decisions more quickly and frequently not the best ones.

The kind of flexibility a leader needs is the ability to recognize which decisions are not ideal and adapt quickly. Leaders must also know when, how, and from whom to solicit feedback when making changes. For instance, decision-makers should not base all product decisions solely on customer feedback. Teams led by decisive and adaptable individuals are more accepting of change.

Leaders must understand when and how to be assertive to lead their team to success. In today’s quick-paced technological environment, leaders who are prepared for the future can simultaneously adapt to new information and inputs.

Also Read: Top IT Management Mistakes CIOs Must be Aware Of

Tips for IT leaders to ensure faster digitalization

  • Identify skill gaps

IT leaders should start by outlining the major tasks before identifying any skills gaps and how to close them. Unfortunately, not all of them will be available in already-existing talent marketplaces, particularly because demand for digital skills is still outpacing supply.

However, some cutting-edge sourcing methods can be helpful, such as separating work from roles, utilizing adjacent skills, and pursuing borderless talent.

  • Hiring multi-talented candidates

Searching for candidates with various backgrounds, especially those with experience in other fields or positions, is also beneficial.

Business relationship management, change management, and customer experience management may benefit from their valuable insights and distinctive perspectives. The best candidates might already be on staff because successful digital transformation depends on in-depth domain knowledge and business empathy.

  • Focus on training

Resources, workshops, and training opportunities can all be used to invest in ongoing education. Internal job markets can also help IT leaders find internal candidates outside of IT who might have transferrable skills.

Building a knowledge network is essential for organizations pursuing digital transformation. It will help people, domains, and outside parties share and exchange knowledge and expertise.

These can be more formal associations or informal social networks and online communities. People can connect, collaborate, share knowledge, and develop expertise through such networks. They can be effective tools to close DT skill gaps and support DT initiatives.

CIOs must support organizational structures that effectively leverage these key skills to speed up the pace of cross-collaboration and innovation that digital transformation demands. Any program for digital transformation needs these skills, but a team effort is required to assemble them.

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Swapnil Mishra

Swapnil Mishra is a global news correspondent at OnDot Media, with over six years of experience in the field. Swapnil has established herself as a trusted voice in the industry, specializing in technology journalism encompassing enterprise tech. Having collaborated with various media outlets, she has honed her skills in writing about executive leadership, business strategy, industry insights, business technology, supply chain management, blockchain and data management. As a journalism graduate, Swapnil possesses a keen eye for editorial detail and a mastery of language, enabling her to deliver compelling and informative news stories. She has a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex technical concepts into easy-to-understand language.

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