Chief Information Officer

The Role of the Chief Information Officer in Managing Digital Transformation

As enterprise organizations evaluate the impact of technology on their business operations, digital transformation is an increasingly important strategic discussion at the C-suite level, and few executives have as important of a role in this process as the CIO.

At a recent Argyle Executive Forum event on September 25 in Chicago, leading IT executives gathered to discuss this topic. The evolving role of CIO in the enterprise to not only support change efforts, but step into a leadership role for administering and encouraging digital transformation across the entire organization is something all IT executives must consider. The following best practices and insights were discussed in-depth during the day long forum.

Identifying and Measuring the Value of Data Capital

As organizations undertake massive shifts in how they operate, data capital has become central to strategic planning at all levels. Paul Sonderegger, Senior Data Strategist at Oracle shared his insights on how to better optimize the value of the structured and unstructured data already at the disposal of these executives.

“Inside of your organization, there is a hidden data economy. But most business leaders don’t think of [data] that way,” Sonderegger pointed out. “Most [business leaders] think of data in terms of pipelines.”

While most organizations already know that data must be collected and analyzed to measure and evaluate what has already happened, Sonderegger argues that it is a powerful resource that can guide future production of digital goods and services. That innate value makes data a vital resource that should be integrated into all aspects of day-to-day operations within an organization. Furthermore, it can be leveraged as a resource beyond internal activities if the right tools and technologies for collection and analysis are deployed at an organization-wide level.

Taking a Proactive Approach to Digital Disruption in the Enterprise

IT leadership is at the center of digital disruption in a large organization, but it can be challenging. Buy-in from executives and employees for new technologies and processes can be difficult – frequently making it both more time-consuming and costlier. In a panel discussion led by Paul Machamer, Project Manager, CCC Information Services, and including Jonathan Morse, VP, technology and Continuous Improvement, Topco, Jim Schiefelbein, Chief Marketing Technology Oficer, Apartment People, Chris Stout, VP, Department of Clinical Research and Data Analytics, ATI Physical Therapy, and Joe Wilson, CTO, NA, Workday, the role of IT leadership to define and lead digital disruption in the enterprise was discussed at length.

The panel discussed the fundamental importance of a forward-thinking, highly integrated CIO in identifying technologies that can help an organization drive digital transformation. They also discussed the risk of choosing the wrong tools that don’t complement everyday operations. “We have to be very much aware of what’s happening in the market from a dynamic perspective,” Wilson stated. “As a leader, you have to evaluate the market and be aware of what’s coming at you … there’s digital noise out there, and you need to be able to find the signals in that noise.”

With the rapid rate of development and evolution of technology tools and services, digital disruption is an ongoing process. IT leaders must be agile and able to adjust to the realities of the marketplace and the potential value that new technology can offer. To do this, they should establish clear objectives that are aligned with both short- and long-term business goals. By developing a clear digital disruption timeline and setting goals that align with the plans and needs of other executives, IT leadership can guide the organization into the future with cutting edge new processes and technologies.

Building a Winning Digital Experience

How organizations interact with customers has transformed in recent years to reflect their increased connectivity. The digital experience needs to be a flawless, uninterrupted path to engagement that generates lasting loyalty across several digital channels – with a major focus on mobile and social media.

Leecox Omollo, Director, Digital Center of Excellence at AdTalem Global Education highlighted how organizations can deliver the kind of digital experience that foster long-term customer trust and position them favorably against the competition. Most importantly, Omollo points out, a winning digital experience cannot be the sole responsibility of any one sector of the business. It is an organization-wide commitment. IT executives must be willing to adapt to customer expectations and equip themselves with the right tools and knowledge to improve digital experience both now and in the future.

“It’s no longer a top-down mentality … it’s about agility,” Omollo noted. “It’s also about customer focus. It’s not about the technologies that we have. It’s about what we can deliver to our customers.”

To be a change-agent that guides digital transformation of the customer experience, IT executives must spend time researching and understanding the tools and resources at their disposal and matching them to the business goals of their organizations. And while he admits that it is ordinary and commendable to look at the customer first, IT executives need to also look at the full context of the digital experience and how an organization can provide specific value to its customers.

The result of focusing on the digital experience and working with other executives to clearly define how the organization can offer value is differentiation against the competition and longer-lasting customer relationships.

Keys to Success in Digital Transformation

Many organizations struggle to define digital transformation and to realize the full potential it offers with the implementation of modern enterprise applications. David Miller, Vice President and Partner for Financial Services Application Innovation at IBM, explored the core goals of digital transformation in the enterprise and what CIOs should be doing to realize the best possible results from those efforts.

Digital transformation doesn’t just happen. How the organization defines it in relation to its own goals and day-to-day operations has significant ramifications. The high-level decisions made at this point will impact employees and customers alike. Despite this, many executives fail to take customer engagement into account when planning their technology investments. “The success or failure of customer engagements often depends on what is done with the underlying systems of record. Yet oftentimes, [these systems] get overlooked,” Miller pointed out.

Another point Miller highlighted was the opportunity to prioritize strategic modernization. “Companies that prioritize modernization of systems of record as part of their digital transformation journey and initiatives are twice as likely to have successful outcomes as opposed to those [companies] that do not,” Miller indicated. This approach can provide situations in which the organization can capitalize on new markets and opportunities.

Finally, Miller looked at how digital transformation investments can support company-wide systems, processes, and employees. By creating a strategic plan, CIOs can help the organization empower employees to use these systems in ways that lead to meaningful change and improvement, which in turn leads to increased earnings and better differentiation from competition.

The Future of Digital Transformation

For IT executives in large organizations, digital transformation is an ongoing process that touches all aspects of day-to-day operations – from the systems used, to the processes implemented by employees, and the role of data to inform both internal operations and external opportunities.

For those who make plans that reflect this increased importance and leverage their role to align the interests of the C-suite strategically around digital transformation, there are many benefits to be seen.

Visit Argyle Executive Forum's Argyle Digital: CIO Leadership Forum in Virtual Forum, on Jul 07, 2020

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