Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Box receives a lot of visitors who are interested in learning about how the company approaches innovation.
One of the trends that Paul Chapman has witnessed as the CIO at Box is that many visiting CEOs are most interested in how Silicon Valley companies operate from a cultural standpoint.
“I recently met with a CEO from an Australian company and what he and many visiting CEOs look for are the cultural aspects of innovative companies. And that’s what the CIO needs to share in C-suite education and understanding,” said Chapman. “The CIO should have a broad understanding of the complexities of change management for any significant transitions the organization is looking to take.”
It’s a critical point that Chapman raises with regards to digital transformation efforts. A study conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review with Deloitte finds that 70% of digitally maturing companies are organized around cross-functional teams versus just 28% of companies in the early stages of digital development.
Without question, the technology used to support digital transformation efforts is just one part of the equation. “At Box, we like to say that it’s not about rewriting your software, it’s about rewriting your company,” said Chapman. “The CIO is elevated out of the back office and into the C-suite because all eyes are on them to help the company think through its digital transition. It’s a great time to be a CIO because of that. The CIO now has the opportunity to work with the C-suite to get them to understand that technology is an enabler to outcomes but to reach those outcomes, you have to think through how to get to a new operating model and in some cases, a new business model.”
In guiding the enterprise on digital transformation, Chapman believes the CIO is best positioned to help the organization to envision and reach the future state. “If you look at other parts of the organization, they have remained relatively undisrupted and steady. By comparison, IT is good at thinking through how to put themselves out of business in order to stay relevant,” said Chapman. “So, the conversation with the C-suite is really about `how do you think through rewriting the business’,” he adds.
The CIO’s unique horizontal view across the organization is also invaluable for architecting the end-to-end value chain with digital transformation. “Most organizations talk about functions such as sales operations or finance, but they don’t operate in a way that’s focused on end-to-end processes” said Chapman. “Generally, no single person owns end-to-end; different people own various pieces of it.”
One of the differences with digital transformation strategies relative to other IT/business initiatives is that companies are often taking a customer centric outside-in approach. “Digital doesn’t tend to focus on internal processes as much as it is focused on engagement with customers and business partners,” said Chapman. “To operate as a digital company, you also need to create a culture around digital experiences, digital processes and digital workflows (for employees).”
For established companies that need to make the pivot from legacy architectures to digital platforms, Chapman likes to remind the C-suite about the importance of making the right investments for the company’s future. “I like to say that investing in IT is not mandatory but then again neither is business survival,” said Chapman. “Digital is not taking a legacy interaction and modernizing it. It’s about replacing old ways of doing things and operating differently in a digital world.”