CIO checklist: 8 digital transformation essentials for 2018

The “back office” guy has made it to the top. No longer is he expected to simply manage IT and day-to-day operations. From creating seamless digital customer experiences to bridging the silos in the organization’s functional departments, the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) has evolved and how! He is at the heart of digital transformation in new-age enterprises.

A recent survey finds that many of the strategic initiatives that kept CIOs busy last year have shifted to activities with an increased focus on implementing digital transformation. Here’s looking at 8 things that CIOs need to do in 2018 to stay ahead of the curve:

  1. Don’t just do it

Everybody wants to be a part of the digital transformation bandwagon, but very few know how to get there. As tempting as it may be to just go with the flow, CIOs need to dedicate enough time, energy and money to get a digital transformation strategy in place this year. The initial excitement of transformation programs will wear off in time and only those with concrete plans will be able to survive the challenges and deliver results that drive business growth. The decision to outsource certain processes can be the real game changer this year. 

  1. Reach out to the naysayers

In every organization, there are cynics who are simply not convinced about the need to go digital. As a leader, the CIO needs to reach out to them and ensure that they are part of the digital transformation journey. Given that it’s a collaborative exercise, the process needs to extend beyond the IT department to all verticals across the business. Without the right digital mindset, no amount of technology can make digital transformation a reality.

  1. Ensure effective communication

If there’s one thing that all CIOs must do in 2018, it is to ensure that everybody in the organization is up-to-date with digital transformation initiatives that are underway. Often, there are multiple initiatives running at different stages and with different teams. The CIO needs to make sure that the progress and long-term objectives of each initiative is communicated periodically to employees, investors and partners. Why wouldn’t you share inspiring digital success stories of employees?

  1. Do periodic reviews

Digital transformation is an ever-evolving, long journey. It’s important to do periodic reviews, in terms of use of technology platform and architecture strategies. The CIO’s primary job is to keep abreast of the latest shifts in the industry and recognize trends that can help the enterprise meet its business goals. 2018 is the year when many CIOs should be making important decisions as to when and why to sponsor the second wave of digital practices. The need of the hour is to make data-driven decisions to beat the ‘digital deadlock’ and get smart about risk-taking.

  1. Focus on funding

According to Gartner, cloud solutions, cybersecurity and analytics are expected to see a substantial increase in spending within the public sector this year. The scenario is expected to be similar in the private sector. In other words, CIOs need to ensure that they are getting adequate funding for digital transformation initiatives. Often, once a program reaches the execution stage, business sponsors have less time and interest to drive new research into it. However, given that we are on the cusp of the next wave of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain, CIOs cannot afford to get lax on funding this year.

  1. Invest in people

When it comes to digital transformation, the biggest mistake enterprises make is to invest only in the latest technology. They forget that without the right people, technology can achieve very little. So, along with empowering the workforce with data-driven productivity, the CIO also needs to ensure that the organization invests in finding, motivating and retaining talent. Whether it’s hiring skilled data scientists or training employees in new digital skills, a successful CIO knows that an effective transformation calls for the perfect blend of people and processes. Employee experience is just as crucial as customer experience.

  1. Don’t forget security

As offices get smarter and virtual, the focus is on reducing the risk of cyberattacks to protect new-age mobilized enterprises. With the freedom to work from anywhere and on any device comes the challenge of ensuring that the organization’s (or the clients’ or co-workers’) IP is not put at risk. From the use of authentication protocols to new generations of biometric sensors, CIOs need to invest in trustworthy endpoint security solutions this year.

  1. Say yes to self-transformation

Finally, before CIOs can truly transform the enterprise, they need to transform themselves. Their role is no longer limited to operating in-house IT; it’s a dynamic leadership role that demands much more. The biggest difference between CIOs who succeed and who don’t will be the ability and willingness to adapt to the new realities at work. To keep pace with the changing times, CIOs need to step up their game in 2018.

To sum up

This is the year of digital transformation and CIOs are expected to pave the way in most enterprises. According to IDC’s ‘Worldwide CIO Agenda 2018 Predictions’, 60 per cent of CIOs will implement an IT business model and culture that shifts focus from IT projects to digitally-oriented products by 2020. By the end of next year, digital transformation spending is expected to reach $1.7 trillion worldwide.

To make digital transformation a reality is no mean task. It demands continuous business innovation and change in organizational culture. Only CIOs who evolve as digital champions will be able to walk the talk in 2018. Are you ready for the acid test?

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Author : Jisha Krishnan Date : 28 May 2018