There’s lots of buzz about the abundant opportunities for driving digital transformation – and rightfully so. As external customers continue to increase their use of digital touchpoints to research and acquire products, companies need to be where their customers are and provide them with the types of experiences that delight customers and keep them coming back.

As pointed out in the book The Big Shift in IT Leadership, the new challenge is leveraging IT to drive revenue. But CIOs need to think beyond strategy and take the steps needed to execute on digital transformation in order to ensure that the enterprise is able to create revenue-generating business opportunities.

A good starting point is by clearly identifying the goals of digital transformation and making sure they’re aligned with organizational objectives. What are the short-term and long-term goals for the enterprise? To grow revenue? To acquire new customers? Digital transformation initiatives should be viewed not only from the lens of the digital customer experiences that are delivered, but also in terms of how business processes can be updated to improve productivity and differentiate the company’s products and services.

Of course, digital transformation doesn’t occur in a vacuum. CIOs and other company leaders who create a vision for the digital enterprise invest in the skills and resources that are needed to execute on transformative opportunities. If the company’s short-term goal is to grow revenue, recruiting people with skills to equip salespeople with digital tools, and providing training for IT staff that has experience working with the sales organization, should be a top priority.

While CIOs are aligning digital transformation efforts with organizational goals, it’s an ideal time to also align their training efforts with their digital strategies. Unfortunately, not enough companies are paying heed to this. According to Capgemini, just 4% of companies that it polled are aligning their training efforts with their digital strategies.

As companies face a war for talent for digital skills, forward-thinking CIOs are using innovative methods to develop digital skills. Some companies are setting up incubators or innovation centers. Procter & Gamble and Google, meanwhile, have created an employee exchange program aimed at fostering innovation and cross-pollination of digital talent. The employee exchange program has enabled P&G to strengthen its expertise in digital and search marketing.

Experimenting with small initiatives can help practitioners to pick up lessons learned before moving onto larger digital projects. CIOs also need to think about measuring and iterating in shorter cycles using agile development techniques.

Executing on digital transformation initiatives requires the CIO to collaborate with business leaders in new and different ways. As Lee Congdon, CIO at Red Hat Software recently shared, this often requires CIOs to transition out of the role of order-taker and into the role of trusted technology consultant to the enterprise.

“Smart CIOs will position themselves as partners to the business, and will leverage their technical expertise to help the enterprise achieve meaningful business goals,” says Lee.

Lee’s vision for the CIO is a trusted technology consultant to the enterprise. The modern enterprise will be increasingly reliant on the digital backbone, and this creates enormous opportunities for CIOs to collaborate with the C-Suite and create real business value.

Key Takeaways

  • As external customers increase their use of digital touchpoints to research and acquire products, companies need to be where their customers are and provide them with the types of experiences that keep them coming back.
  • A good starting point for digital transformation is by aligning the goals with organizational objectives.
  • As companies face a talent war for digital skills, forward-thinking CIOs are using innovative methods to train and develop in-house skills.