10 Digital Transformation Challenges For CIOs In 2019


  • #1: Building a Strategic Plan
  • #2 Building a Talent Pool
  • #3 Balancing Between Innovations and Operations
  • #4 Transformation of Legacy
  • #5 Joint ventures and Outsourcing Partners
  • #6 Acquisition of Soft Skills
  • #7 Culture Forming
  • #8 Seeing a Big Picture
  • #9 Communication and Broadcasting
  • #10 Structuring New Software Development Groups

Digital Transformation is certainly upon us and it creates massive opportunity in businesses and organizations of all types across the globe. We’re operating in the wake of four major forces come into play:

– Cloud and rapid adoption of the public cloud in the enterprise.
– Mobility and the fact that the majority of organizations actually encourage their people to take their own devices to work.
– Internet of Things – it turns out that even such basic tech solutions like water sampling needs software to work remotely around the globe, which we provided to our client.
– Data Processing – the ability to reason and analyze massive volumes of data that all those devices and people produce is priceless during digital transformation.

The scope of work that organizations face is massive and there is a need of a call-to-action hero who could embrace this digital transformation and bring innovation to the company. Chief Information Officer is essentially the person who becomes a driver of those transformations and work side-by-side with CTO.

#1: Building a Strategic Plan

Business strategy is now inextricably linked to technology. It empowers the enterprise to rethink the way they work, compete, monetize, and serve their clients. It’s more and more often when CIOs is actively engaged during the development of a strategic plan for a company.

CIO is required to draw the technological landscape and find proper techs that the organization can use to go through a digital transformation. CIO is a primarily tech consultant during strategic sessions. You should draw the coordinates for further strategic development and of course, a proficient team on your side would effectively contribute to decision making the process.

#2 Building a Talent Pool

A majority of CEOs think they must do something in terms of digital transformation, but only 10% of them admit they have the right people to do so. So, there is a huge skills gap. And any project needs to start with skills planning and talent pool formation.

This duty falls largely on the shoulders of CIOs, which is hard to handle without proper planning. Usually, there is no time to wait until all talents are on board. And essentially there is no possibility to acquire them from the market because everybody is in the market for those rare skills.

There are essentially two options of how to find talents:

  1. Grow talent internally, which require a solid long-term vision.
  2. Fill in gaps on the go according to the tactical needs, which is done through strategic partnerships and outsourcing.

#3 Balancing Between Innovations and Operations

What the CIOs are finding is that their traditional role of providing operational efficiency and aligning with the business needs is changing. Now CIOs are required to engage and embed into the fabrics of the business. CIO has to contribute to the core strategy of the business.

According to the Deloitte survey, 72 percent of CIOs acknowledged that balancing business innovation and operational excellence is an ongoing challenge.

This happens due to the fact that every business is now a technology business. There are no companies now that haven’t been empowered with technology. CIOs can add value to their organization by focusing on business objectives and building IT capabilities to meet business needs.

#4 Transformation of Legacy

There are cases when Chief digital Officer role appears in order to help CIO. That are unfortunate cases when infrastructure and technologies that are deployed in organizations are aged.

CIOs are forced to spend the majority of their time in maintaining the legacy, leaving them very little time to embrace the new and adopt modern technologies. In such cases finding loyal and reliable software partner is priceless.

Once the backup help is found CIO can stay forward-looking and the need for a chief digital officer diminishes, and in those cases CIO, in fact, can play the role of CDO.

#5 Joint ventures and Outsourcing Partners

Outsourcing is used to be a very transactional and efficient way of meeting technological business expectations. And CIOs continue to use outsourcing for costs reduction or as a second hand to build side projects or a company.

Although, we experience a rise in popularity of joint ventures and partnerships, where CIOs are investing in startups. Obviously, such ventures and collaborations require additional tech skills that are out of core business proficiencies.

Such collaborations put CIOs in the position where they need to embrace new tech frameworks and take responsibility for transitional periods. The hard part here is to find the right specialists that could make this cross-functional collaboration work on the very basic, software level.

The easiest and cost-effective strategy here is to go for outsourcing partners that have a pool of developers with the required skill set.

#6 Acquisition of Soft Skills

In order to roam through digital transformation CIOs are required to boost their soft skills, primarily leadership skills:

  • Learn to adapt easily to new environment;
  • Focus on objectives rather than emotions when working with others;
  • Become an early adopter of new technologies;
  • Be able to take charge and tolerate higher risks;
  • See a big picture and have long-term thinking;
  • Strengthen Emotional IQ and tolerate confrontation;

There is also a great article on HBR about key new skills for CIOs that would help to form corporate culture.

#7 Culture Forming

There is a significant shift in how CIO is perceived. Officers are required to form an innovative culture inside their companies and put more time into how the talents are acquired.

CIOs face new challenge, since they became heroes of technological transformation. CIO now required to hire right people to drive changes. A thoughtful CIO should embrace this challenge and perceive it as an opportunity.

From now on CIOs can form a new corporate cluster inside the company with more agility and proficiency.

#8 Seeing a Big Picture

The best thing is to have a vision of what you would like to achieve and see what technology can do it for you. Digital transformation should be driven by people who understand that the process doesn’t end with technology.

Therefore, the best drivers for the digital transformation process are not technologists (they can do the initial phases) but people who understand either the business or the government, or customer nature.

#9 Communication and Broadcasting

It must be acknowledged that it’s impossible to enforce changes. Especially if those changes require the adoption of new skills, technologies, and knowledge from employees.

The communication between departments and broadcasting of the vision to people is extremely important here. It assures that all employees are aligned with the strategy and the vision of their leaders.

The challenge for CIO here is to transfer the vision from the world of technology to people from other departments. It can be done by creating internal educational programs, meeting, digital universities, etc.

#10 Structuring New Software Development Groups

According to Fujitsu CIO, about a third of companies who do digital transformation have their own software development groups. And in fact those departments are not inside the IT departments, they are separate.

They are formed in the line of business departments because they are expected to work quickly and somehow disrupts the existing ecosystem. The challenge for CIOs here is to create such groups and lead support them through a transitional period.

The digital transformation ends up reshaping the business and having a reliable software partner is crucial for success.

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