Over the last two decades, innovative technologies have determined the present and future of businesses. Every industry uses the latest technologies to move forward, and CIOs play a critical role. They are responsible for driving technological change within their organizations. Research shows that 28 percent of digital transformation initiatives are owned or sponsored by CIOs. Organizations that aren’t willing to use technology to transform business processes risk becoming ordinary industry players or obsolete.
CIOs must use new technologies and invent solutions to make business processes agile. A past Deloitte survey on the global CIO revealed that 42 percent of organizations lacked or had a limited digital strategy. And within those companies, only 40 percent of CIOs were leading the digital enterprise, which means many organizations are lagging in digital transformation. Only 13 percent of IT organizations were perceived as market leaders by the survey.
CIOs transforming IT and business face 5 major challenges
The fast pace of technological advancements
Technology advances rapidly, so CIOs must adapt quickly. They have to abruptly transition from the slower traditional business cycles and embrace a new way of doing things. But it’s also important to avoid rushing things and making poor investments.
To move at the speed of technology, CIOs must form internal structures and teams that support speed. Siloed teams and networks cause delays and are resource-intensive. Multidisciplinary teams can constantly develop innovative initiatives that move the company forward. CIOs must also invest in automation to eliminate repetitive manual tasks that consume a lot of employees’ valuable time. When employees have more time, they innovate, collaborate better, and develop new skills.
IT teams that focus on development should adopt a more agile approach. They should prototype and test concepts quickly, as smaller projects can help them to identify promising ideas faster. They need to save time and money on ideas that may not be feasible.
It’s also crucial that CIOs use software-defined infrastructure to accelerate innovation. They can maximize investments by integrating software that improves application performance, streamlines management, and safeguards data.
David Chou, CIO at a large academic medical center, manages day-to-day operations and an $82 million budget. He firmly believes that the cloud, mobile, social, and big data have the most significant impact on the industry. According to David, healthcare is gradually moving towards a retail model and the company that actualizes this will cause considerable disruption. He recently incorporated a hybrid cloud model to fast-track his organization’s digital transformation strategy.
Lack of stakeholder buy-in
Stakeholder buy-in while adopting digital tools opens new and exciting opportunities for organizations. When company leadership shares common goals and expectations, the entire business moves forward as a unified whole. But for CIOs to get stakeholder buy-in, they must build trust with top management, as transformation can’t happen without transparency.
By being open and candid, CIOs can gain the trust of both employees and management. They can build trust by showing the value of IT, setting the right expectations, and fulfilling promises. The CIOs of today must focus on what end users want and need.
Digital transformation is not a one-department or individual task. CIOs should ensure it’s a top priority for all department heads. Everyone should be willing to take on challenges and maximize the opportunities that lie ahead. Things will change drastically as the business becomes more digitized, and CIOs must address what the initiatives mean from budgetary, organizational, and workflow perspectives. They must keep everyone informed and help ease the transition.
Unhappy end users
“I’m a change catalyst. My goal is to help business executives harness analytics to deliver better business outcomes.” –Ted Colbert, Boeing CIO
A technology-first approach needs to be corrected and will most likely backfire. CIOs must focus on what end users need. If they don’t, they’ll waste lots of time and money on initiatives that go nowhere. This will, in turn, significantly affect digital transformation efforts. As a result, the company will fall behind. First, CIOs must cultivate an internal customer-first culture. They must prioritize customer-focused outcomes, uniting team members to work on a common purpose.
It’s also vital for CIOs to build feedback loops. They must use digital tools to see what end users say in real-time. Very few IT teams use digital tools to determine how people use features and how often they use them. A feedback cycle ensures the entire organization uses data to make more informed decisions. For example, by building prototypes and testing user engagement and reactions, IT teams can quickly determine if their ideas are valid. That way, they can deliver products that consumers really want.
In an interview with La Fosse Associates, Tony Scott, CIO, and CEO NeuralRays AI, mentions that his focus has always been on outcomes rather than the technology used to achieve them. He believes CIOs must understand their end users and their needs better than anyone else. Excelling at digital innovation means achieving outcomes that were previously considered too difficult or even impossible. Design thinking and other creative skill sets are just as critical as the more technical ones.
A rising IT talent gap
Attracting and retaining top tech talent is a big challenge for many CIOs. More companies are looking to hire IT experts with the right skills to lead digital transformation efforts, and the talent pool is getting smaller and smaller.
New skills required to keep pace with emerging technologies—such as cloud computing and AI—have magnified the growing talent shortage. Many qualified professionals have chosen to stay out of the corporate world altogether, so there are fewer candidates to fill the available positions.
To overcome this challenge, CIOs must encourage new ways of working. Cross-department collaboration is critical to staying ahead. When an IT team understands how the organization works, it can work with other business units to achieve common goals
CIOs must also work on increasing employee retention by investing in their teams. They must invest in the professional development of their teams and create a harmonious working environment. Employees quit because of bosses, not because of companies. Make everyone on your team feel valued and appreciated.
One way to make your team feel valued is by reducing their backlog. Outsource work when it’s necessary. When your team needs support, get outside help. For example, you can outsource the deployment and maintenance of IT products, allowing your team to focus on more business-critical tasks.
“Change is happening super fast, and successful organizations will be those that adapt quickly. The time has come for IT to step out of its comfort zone.” –Michael Carlin, AbbVie CIO
Many organizations still use legacy systems that perform poorly but are critical to the business infrastructure. Maintaining and upgrading these systems takes a lot of work. Constant technological change weakens the business value of legacy systems. While they have been created over the years expensively, they have to be decommissioned and replaced with new strategies for a company to grow and scale.
Priorities of CIOs for a successful digital transformation journey
Understand and use the right technology
“For decades, technology has revolutionized companies. Previously, it changed departments and divisions, transforming entire business models. –Brad Strock, Paypal CIO
Successful organizations ensure their CIOs have the right skills and tools to drive and navigate change in a dynamic environment. Having the skill set necessary for the digital transformation journey is vital.
Since 2013, the money wasted on poor project performance has decreased by 27 percent. This is because business leaders focus less on change and more on restructuring their companies to make agility and creativity part of organizational DNA. They are also prioritizing building a culture receptive to change. As new technologies and opportunities emerge, CIOs must adjust their strategies and innovate faster.
Many CIOs and IT teams spend more time maintaining IT infrastructure than delivering enhanced experiences. To fast-track digital transformation, CIOs must use tools to speed up project delivery and customer value.
Automation technology can accelerate digital transformation as it allows for process optimization and improves the quality of delivery. Organizations have realized the need for innovation, speed, and agility and are now automating processes for organizational success.
How Kissflow supports CIOs with their strategy
Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination. CIOs must be ready to restructure their strategies time and again as business objectives and goals evolve. But to do this, they need digital capabilities and tools to increase the speed of execution, improve the user experience, and continually reassess change management processes.
Kissflow can help CIOs use technology to improve the way work gets done. They can build applications, automate workflows, and seamlessly integrate them into the IT landscape. Get to know the best digital transformation platform today and start transforming your organization.
Read More on Digital Transformation:
1. What is Digital Transformation? Definition & Types
2. Why does Digital Transformation Fail?
3. Enabling Digital Transformation with Cloud Technology
4. 9 Digital Transformation trends to follow in 2023
5. Gartner's insights on Digital Transformation market growth