Can CIOs drive the digital transformation alone? Who else can take up the responsibility in an organization?
Digital transformation is not the sole responsibility of CIOs. The burden is disseminated alongside the organization’s digital, innovation, data, and technology chiefs as well. Cohesion is key for digital transformation plans to turn into reality.
Currently, there is a trend of companies relying more on the CDO (Chief Digital Officer) or another leader who typically possesses the knowledge and understanding of how to monetize it for business interest. Other firms designate Chief Digital Officer to oversee not only IT but also the other factors such as product development, IoT, sales, and service.
How do these complex relationships work, and is there a need for streamlining them? In the years to come, there is going to be one or a set of technical executives responsible for moving the business forward instead of a CIO exercising all the powers. Today, CIOs are still leading transformations at most companies. A recent survey collected response from over 14000 people has confirmed that almost two-thirds of the digital transformation in firms are lead and executed with coordination between the CEO and CIO.
Still, industry experts contend that enterprises that are genuinely looking to achieve market differentiation with explosive growth will deploy specific advanced innovation teams with tech-driven approaches and new technology skills to change, lead and dominate their market.
How could this be a smooth operation? For one, by organizing teams and departments around significant and specialized capabilities is one factor. However, preferably the enterprise IT should still technically be led by the CIOs as they offer experience and leadership qualities. It is vital that technologies such as data analytics or AI are horizontally implemented across all departments of the company. While larger firms may lean towards building tech leadership teams, most companies still tap and rely only on experienced CIOs to manage their digital transformation journeys.
The challenge that innovation faces are about the lack of support from a culture, environment and existing infrastructure point of view. In addition, many people were not interested in putting extra effort into bringing in change. However, with firms moving to modern infrastructure and technically advanced environment, these excuses have been eliminated.
Having a dedicated CDO is the right short-term approach, but in the long term, to bring in successful digital transformation, all efforts should be integrated into the broader technology vision of the organization.
Tying it into the back end is mandatory if firms ever decide to scale things up and revive innovation. Doing so will mean that the CIOs will very much continue to be relevant and functional. However, firms should reconsider the role of CDO for active alignment of priorities across an organization.