The digital transformation is undoubtedly the biggest transition facing a vast majority of companies today. Most are actively adapting to a new digital era in which automation and data analysis offer opportunities to generate new revenues and truly competitive advantages.
A growing need to get on the digital bandwagon is serving to empower the role of CIO. In a recent interview with Forbes, CIO of logistics company BDP International Angela Yochem predicted that her role within businesses will be increasingly perceived as being above that of Chief Financial Officer (CFO): “Just as a CEO cannot make decisions without a CFO’s approval, the same needs to occur with a company’s CIO.”
For the CIO’s increasingly important role to function correctly, a team of IT professionals who are industry-trained but open to trying new approaches would be required, as would a new leadership and management role whose function extends beyond that of the “technical services” or “help desk” paradigm.
Below are 10 recommendations for CIOs to successfully manage the digitization within a company, whatever the size or sector:
This post is also available in Spanish.
How can CIOs successfully manage the digitization within a company?
1. Clearly define your goals
It is often the case that digital goals are limited to the user’s digital experience. However, as mentioned on previous occasions, digitisation offers a source of information that helps us make better decisions, which in turn reduces costs and improves productivity. It is therefore crucial to instigate a digital transformation with clear objectives that have been inspired by a more holistic approach.
2. Turn your department into a key part of the business
For an IT department to competently bring about a digital transformation, it must forego its natural tendency to receive and execute orders in other areas of an organisation. As a fundamental part of any company, the IT department must explictly partake in key business decisions. This new approach would require the refashioning of departmental goals and in many cases, the hiring of new professionals.
3. Be a true leader
Related to the previous point, the surest way to relieve an IT department from the inertia of simply receiving and carrying out requests is for the CIO to become an official leader within the company. This would involve a CIO managing his or her own team as well as actively intervene in decision-making at management level, to whom such a role would traditionally be subordinate.
4. Oversee the complete work cycle of digital departments
Despite the evolving nature of the IT department, CIOs must be conscious of the need to pay close attention to how the department plans, develops, delivers, manages and continually updates its activities.
5. Be an early adopter
IT departments have sometimes fallen into the “fast follower” category by adopting new technologies as soon as their value has been demonstrated by others. It is, however, far more beneficial for companies to be early adopters, keeping a continual and exhaustive track of innovative solutions released by universities and startups, as well as developing infrastructures internally to evaluate, integrate, test and use them.
6. Hire new talents with new skills
The new digital era naturally requires CIOs to acquire new skills, such an expertise in open source, being data scientists, etc. However, in addition to an established skill set, they must be able to learn on the job. In future, it will become a necessity in the recruitment process to implement HR politics that have until now rarely featured in technological departments, such as the rotation of roles to equip all team members with the ability to carry out each other’s jobs and therefore give them a clear idea of how tasks are related to one another.
7. Create a smooth transition
An intense digital transformation makes it easy for a company to fall into the temptation of reinventing the wheel, or wanting to liquidate all aspects of a previous stage of its existence. However, it is important to visualise the digital future of a company as being able to make a transition in a flexible manner. This often involves maintaining established processes, capitalising on financing mechanisms or pre-existing innovations and, above all, not losing sight of that fact that aspects earmarked to be replaced will continue to function while a new system is being developed.
8. Be fast and flexible
Management tools such as Scrum are forever changing projects and the development of innovative products. Beyond simply incorporating them into a business, the key to using them well is to combine both speed and flexibility. Technology does not wait around for us, and it is perhaps the only management tool that a project should truly count on even before all other necessary components are factored in.
9. Make mistakes quickly and fall forward
Spotify founder Daniel Ek once boasted that his company aimed to "make more mistakes and faster than anyone else." This statement reveals a set of values that contain a valuable lesson for a CIO: innovation is inseparable from making mistakes. However, accepting the existence of errors must go hand-in-hand with effective damage control: experiments should always be as fast and cheap as possible, as well as constantly monitored so that less successful elements can be quickly changed.
10. Build strong relationships with the entire community
With regards to the aforementioned interview in Forbes, Angela Yochem commented that CIOs must start looking beyond the confines of their departments and work closely with interest groups that have visibility and value to other departments. The BDP International executive actively encouraged leaders of innovation to get out of their offices and offer their expertise to non-profit organisations or communities where their businesses are located.
We hope these 10 tips will help guide the digital transformation of your company. Remember that any change requires preparation and a step into the unknown. At Signaturit we offer an electronic signature solution that is already supporting many companies in the midst of a digital transition. To learn more, you can download the following whitepaper:
This post is also available in Spanish.
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