Digital transformation: 5 tips to take it to the next level

How can you conquer the obstacles that pop up as you execute on digital transformation goals? Speakers from the upcoming MIT Sloan CIO Symposium share practical advice
697 readers like this.
lightbulb progression to idea

If you are feeling stuck in your digital transformation work, you are not alone. One of the hardest questions in digital transformation  is how to get over the intial humps from vision to execution. It creates angst: Many CIOs and organizations think they lag far behind their peers on transformation, when that isn't the case.

Even organizations that are well down the digital transformation path face tough ongoing hurdles, like budgeting and change management. 

[ See our related story with MIT's Jeanne Ross: Creating digital roadmaps: CIOs play a key role. ]

On May 23, academics, CIOs, and industry experts will gather at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium to discuss how organizations are getting past the bumps and successfully executing on  digital transformation. Ahead of the MIT event, we asked speakers to share tips for CIOs to improve their efforts and take their digital transformations to the next stage. Here's what they had to say. 

Find the disruptors

“Take a look two to three levels down from your direct reports. Which leaders in that group are disrupting things and causing a stir – maybe even getting negative reactions from their managers? Sit down with those people and learn what they’re doing. If it seems interesting, even in an uncomfortable way, deliberately remove obstacles from them. You will see game-changing results in a much quicker cycle than you’re used to.” – Melissa Swift, global leader for digital solutions, Korn Ferry 

Bring personalization to internal systems

“To date, enterprises have focused on digitizing the front end of the customer journey with frictionless, personalized experiences. The next era is to bring those key insights to the internal systems, business processes, and employee engagement. CIOs and IT leaders should take a proactive role in advancing the inside of their enterprise with tailored tools and experiences based on employees’ personas, as well as digitizing workflows and enabling self-service capabilities to increase productivity.” – Cynthia Stoddard, SVP & CIO, Adobe 

Take charge of analytics

“If there is an innovation and analytics function within your company and as the CIO, you are not involved, you need to make sure that you (or your team) are well represented in those efforts, if not leading them. If you do not have an analytics function within your company, there is an opportunity to open up that discussion and see how you can get involved. As CIO, you should also strengthen your digital leadership. You need to make sure you have a strong team and key leaders under you to help you drive the need for digital innovation. If this effort all falls on one person, more often than not, the effort falls short. This needs to be a team-driven goal.”  – Bill Kracunas, principal, technology and management consulting, RSM US

Know your number

“I have yet to meet a corporate leader who wouldn’t drive cross-organizational compliance and stakeholder accountability for the right number. What number? In my world, we most often speak in terms of cost savings, but transformation programs may be executed for any number of reasons: customer retention; revenue growth; speed to market. Converting metrics to dollar terms helps clarify the goal of any change program, and clear goals become the driving force behind successful execution.” – Cathy Horst-Forsyth, founder & managing partner, Strongbow Consulting Group 

Empower your talent

“One key piece of advice would be to empower the ‘digital groundswell population’ in your organization by one, supporting their efforts through AppDev and scrum training, and two, by establishing some architectural and operational guardrails for those teams to be in line with your overall digital development efforts. Learn from organizations that are further ahead in their digital journey by how they have organized themselves and have embedded digital capabilities across different business units. Lastly, talent seems to be the most important success factor. Showcase your digital successes to the marketplace to attract gifted digital talent to your organization.” – Wolfgang Bauriedel, executive director, Russell Reynolds Associates 

[ For more lessons learned from your peers, see our digital transformation guide. ]

The 2018 MIT CIO Symposium happens in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 23. For more information or to register to attend, please click here

Want more wisdom like this, IT leaders? Sign up for our weekly email newsletter.

Carla Rudder is a community manager and program manager for The Enterprisers Project. She enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.