The business and IT landscape has significantly shifted over the years and the use of digital technologies to transform business is dramatically impacting every single sector and industry. However, digital transformation is a long-term commitment and a journey, which also presents multiple complex challenges for CIOs and their boards in any enterprise.
Riverbed Technology’s CIO, Rich Hillebrecht, shares 8 keys to success for CIOs and IT executives leading digitally transformative projects:
1. Be a catalyst (or change agent) for digital transformation
In an ideal scenario, the digital transformation journey starts with a good business idea. It’s then the responsibility of CIOs and the IT organizations to deliver and execute the capabilities needed to push forward the idea. It’s now widely recognized that digital business models are changing the role of CIOs; this reality is amplifying the need for CIOs and their leadership colleagues across the enterprise to collaborate on these initiatives from the start.
2. Identify corporate intricacies and objectives
As no two digital transformation projects will be identical, from the very start of the process, CIOs need to be extremely clear on the business outcomes the organization wants to achieve through digital transformation. Understanding company-wide intricacies and objectives provide CIOs with an opportunity to approach transformation programs in a more effective way.
CIOs must have a fundamental understanding of the company’s business models, while leveraging their visibility across the organization to identify how a digital transformation journey might affect each area of the company. Undertaking a digital transformation project for traditional businesses, born in the age before cloud, will be very different from the journey taken by a cloud-born startup that’s looking to generate more revenue.
3. Align with internal stakeholders
In today’s digital era, IT’s role cannot be constrained to the historical efficiency objectives model, but rather be the force that enables the primary business objectives of growth, profitability, and innovation. Being fully on board from the start will not only ease the efforts of implementation, but also allow for any changes to be measured right from the start as you progress towards a shared goal.
4. Continually iterate
With every aspect of digital transformation, comes a “launch and learn” aspect. It’s important to strike a balance between flexibility within the project and striving to innovate, without taking on too much risk. Having the ability to trial efforts and track progress towards common objectives is key. This allows the organization to capitalize on innovation and drive more cutting edge digital services that benefit both employees and customers.
5. Recognize success and rapidly scale
Once a new solution for a digital process has passed the hurdles, and is fit for function validation with a sample audience, it must be able to scale quickly and deployed rapidly across target audiences. Launching new applications and digital services are critical projects, which organizations must carefully orchestrate. To ensure success, new applications and digital services should be continuously observed and updated as needed based on performance results.
6. Avoid digital application failures
In a digital age where end-users and customers interact with applications on-demand, you can hardly afford for your business’s new digital services or systems to suddenly stop working. Businesses are struggling to maintain agility with their current infrastructure, as 97% say their legacy networks will have difficulty keeping pace with changing demands of cloud, according to a recent survey from Riverbed.
To overcome the risk of a digital failure, organizations must go one step beyond investing in a digital transformation strategy. They also must invest in next-generation software-defined networks and performance management solutions, which provide real-time insights, and visibility into each aspect of the end-user experience—to measure what’s working and what’s not, and course correct as quickly as possible. This way, the CIO and IT organization will not only be able to track good and bad performance across digital estates, but also provide proof of ROI to the board on investment—showcasing saved time and money, while avoiding digital catastrophes.
7. Acknowledge the challenges of change
Every C-level role has a stake in the success of digital transformations—it’s so high up on the corporate agenda that new roles, such as Chief Digital Officer (CDO), are beginning to emerge. And although interest around digital and newly founded technology focused roles is becoming more prominent, it shouldn’t threaten CIOs and IT organizations. This is an opportunity for CIOs to play a larger role in conversations around the direction and role technology plays within the business. Where it’s a challenge for the CIO and IT organization is if they’re seen as too slow or reluctant to support digital transformation.
8. Position your role for continued success
Digital transformation is continuous; it’s an initiative, which organization will start and continually develop over time as new technologies and trends come to market. But it’s also one of the CIOs greatest opportunities to help the business advance, to provide insights, expertise and guidance on elements that can future proof the company and secure revenues. Keeping everyone aligned and cooperating is key, along with continuing the dialogue between roles, establishing expertise, and always showing a commitment to help all parts of the business move forward.
Originally posted on Forbes.com.