New HBR research urges CIOs to lead in digital transformation

New HBR research urges CIOs to lead in digital transformation

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May 27, 2015
Driving Digital Transformation: Leaders, Followers, Laggards

Digital technology is rapidly reshaping the future of businesses across all industries, and a company-wide appreciation and understanding of this shift will separate the winners from the losers in a new digital age. CIOs have a powerful opportunity to lead their organizations in digital fluency, and new research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services reveals that when they do, their organizations are more likely to see tangible business results, such as increased revenue growth and profit margins.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that in a survey of 436 global business leaders, less than a quarter (23 percent) are confident their organizations have the knowledge and skills to succeed in the digital aspects of their business. What's more is that less than half (45 percent) of all respondents said they personally had the technology knowledge they need to succeed in their jobs. Those organizations that do have the skills are identified in the report as "Digital Leaders," yet less than a fifth of respondents (19 percent) fell into that category. Digital Leaders, the report says, are organizations that have both a compelling digital vision as well as the people, processes and technology needed to execute against that vision.

For this small group of Digital Leaders, the research reveals an environment of ongoing digital education and shared ownership and accountability for digital technology initiatives among business leaders, producing not only monetary results, but also a greater confidence throughout the organization in their ability to compete and succeed in an increasingly digital future.

Unfortunately, there is a yawning gap between Digital Leaders and the other 81 percent of survey respondents in terms of both digital acumen and business results.

This HBR report sends a clear and strong message to CIOs to seize the opportunity to lead. [Tweet]

Indeed, 46 percent of all survey respondents indicated that they are looking to their CIO to learn about digital technology trends. Perhaps easier said than done, the results point to a lack of an appropriate forum for digital learning (45 percent) and a CIO that is “too busy” (34 percent) as two of the biggest barriers making it difficult for their organizations to master digital trends.

But overcoming those challenges is critical, and within the report, survey respondents in the Digital Leader category indicate the specific ways their CIOs are assuming the role of “digital coach or master” to better prepare their organizations for future success.

The report, which was sponsored by Red Hat as part of the Enterprisers Project, provides a blueprint for CIOs to generate increased digital acumen across their organizations by outlining these and other best practices of CIOs within Digital Leader companies.

Download “Driving Digital Transformation: New skills for leaders; New role for the CIO” to find out why digital fluency is fast becoming your organization's most important differentiator in today's digital landscape – and what you must do to lead or get left behind.

Digital leadership pays off
By Harvard Business Review Analytic Services
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