Hand Holding Globe News BlockDigital transformation is sweeping across the business landscape. Billions of devices are connected to the Internet of Things, providing companies fresh insights regarding customer behaviors and operational conditions.

Meanwhile, the expanded use of digital channels such as chat, mobile, and social by consumers is changing how companies are doing business with customers and leading to the creation of new business models.

According to an October 2015 study published by Forrester Consulting and Accenture Interactive involving in-depth surveys with 396 business decision-makers, the top three drivers behind digital transformation are profitability (58%), speed-to-market (51%), and efforts to improve customer satisfaction (48%).

Despite the colossal opportunities for driving business value and operational improvement offered by digital transformation, there is still confusion regarding who should “own” and drive digital strategies within the enterprise. According to the Forrester/Accenture study, digital ownership is currently divided between the CEO (38%), the CIO (33%), and other senior leaders such as the Chief Digital Officer and the Chief Marketing Officer (29%).

As digital disruption permeates the enterprise, CIOs increasingly must display courageous leadership in an environment where there is less guidance. In light of this ambiguity, there are a number of ways that CIOs can step up and deliver the kind of bold leadership that’s needed for the enterprise to execute on its digital strategies.

A good starting point for CIOs is by working closely with the CEO and members of the executive team to identify and prioritize opportunities and challenges related to digital transformation and strategic planning.

One of the ways that CIOs can demonstrate leadership here is by sharing their insights as to areas of the business or specific operational activities that could benefit from digital deployment based on their comprehensive view of the enterprise and how all of the various business lines and organizational functions are connected and interoperate.

Because the CIO has such a unique vantage point across the enterprise, it’s imperative for IT leaders to communicate what they’re seeing along with recommendations for executing on opportunities that have been identified. For instance, based on their knowledge of the business and understanding of current market conditions, a CIO for a healthcare provider could identify how the use of wearable medical monitors worn by patients could be used to create new information services for both patients and physicians, or how the use of 3D printing can be used to design and develop customized medical devices.

Another way that the CIO can demonstrate digital leadership is by working closely with third-party business partners that can offer useful guidance and expert resources to companies drawn from extensive experience working on digital business issues with organizations across industries. In this regard, the CIO can act as Chief Partnership Officer in helping the enterprise to identify those business/technology partners that offer the best fit for the company’s digital vision.

At a time when executive leadership is needed more than ever, there are multiple opportunities for the CIO to step up and deliver value for digital transformation initiatives.

“When I first started in energy distribution, I did find that there was a lot of inertia,” said Maurizio Laudisa, CIO at Superior Propane in an HMG Strategy video. “It’s an old industry – it’s essentially a lot of people with trucks going and filling up propane tanks. It was really ripe for new technology to break through for the commoditization of that industry. The way we have shaken the status quo was to really re-think how digitization can help the industry look beyond where it’s at and disrupt the playing field. We’ve done that in a couple of ways. We’ve actually built customer portals that are integrated directly into our supply chains for both our residential customers and our commercial customers.”


Key Takeaways

  • Despite enormous opportunities for driving business value and operational improvement through digital transformation, there’s still confusion regarding who should “own” and drive digital strategies within the enterprise. According to a Forrester/Accenture study, digital ownership is currently divided between the CEO (38%), the CIO (33%), and other senior leaders such as the Chief Digital Officer and the Chief Marketing Officer (29%).
  • One of the ways that the CIO can demonstrate leadership here is by sharing his or her insights regarding areas of the business or specific operational activities that could benefit from digital deployment based on their comprehensive view of the enterprise and how all of the various business lines and organizational functions are connected and interoperate.
  • The CIO can also act as the Chief Partnership Officer to help the enterprise identify those business/technology partners that offer the best fit for the company’s digital vision.