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3 Things Every CIO Must Do to Implement a Successful Digital Transformation Strategy


It’s important for CIOs to focus on long-term, long-tail benefits to succeed with digital transformation.

It used to be the case the CIO only executed projects. With the advent of the digital transformation, today’s CIOs face a unique challenge–to keep pace with speed and intensity of the digitization.

Entire business strategies revolve around the ability of CIOs navigate in these uncharted waters. It appears that almost every major analyst organization has a consensus on the challenges faced by CIOs while their organization undergoes a digital transformation.

CIOs looking to achieve enterprise-wide digitization need to focus on these three steps:

1. Be an early adopter:

CIOs need to dive early into new technology and not wait in the sidelines while others take a headstart. They should constantly find ways to digitize, automate every mundane, manual task.

Gartner’s research suggests that CIOs prefer digital transformation to profit improvement, innovation, R&D, and even cost reduction. Yet even among the top-performing CIOs’ organizations, only 50% of their processes are digitized.

Forrester corroborates this with their own study which reveals that as many as 60% of CIOs are behind in their digital transformation efforts. This is quite a common issue faced by many CIOs, including many of my peers. They’re starting to advance their digital transformation efforts by empowering their workforce by incorporating citizen developer platforms.

CIOs should start by identifying functional areas in their organization that could be improved with tech. They can even take inspiration from other companies that have solved similar problems. Also, CIOs should test waters with pilot programs within specific areas and share what they learn from each test.

2. Researching master data management solutions:

One of the many advantages of digital transformation is that it enables us to mine data. According to Gartner, CIOs are seeing business intelligence and analytics as their most important differentiators. The early adopters are already reaping the benefits of CRM and ERP systems, but as a whole, they’re moving toward long-tail technology that gives them the holistic picture.

Your analytics are only as good as your data. CIOs need to have a centralized data warehouse to keep track of clean data. An enterprise service bus will help send transaction data there as well. While it’s easy to be trapped by perfecting data entry, CIOs must try to maintain realistic tolerances when it comes to data integrity.

3. Making teams and processes mutually beneficial:

CIOs have been using software tools to help them solve problems for quite some time. Chatbots, robotic process automation, business process management, and machine learning are all capable of performing far more productive work in an hour than a human could. Gartner says 25% of CIOs are already planning to implement AI projects, and Forrester predicts that 10% of all purchase decisions will be informed by an intelligence agent in the near future.

The first step to building symbiosis is identifying and classifying processes that are better handled by systems and the ones that need human intervention. Then CIOs need to create a process catalog to streamline who (or what) completes which tasks. These two labels will give you insights into which tasks would make good candidates to be handled by AI.

CIOs must rapidly realign their priorities to reflect current market conditions and digital transformations can no longer be on the backburner. By drawing more business areas into the digital fold, they’re better equipped to analyze solutions, introduce automation and AI, and protect their organizations from security threats.

Over the next three years, the gap between those who implement digitization successfully and those who falter will widen considerably. Ultimately, digitization is a journey, and not a destination. Those who approach it as such will be at a considerable business advantage in the coming decade.