This year will be a defining one for many CIO’s as they grapple with digital transformation. It really will be “survival of the fittest” for many as businesses place more emphasis on “channel shift” and expect IT to be the transformation agent to solve all of the problems ranging from margin erosion through to Brexit.
In addition to this, the traditional CIO role is being challenged by the “new kids on the block” such as CDOs and other glorious new titles. So how does the CIO help to ensure that whichever route he or she takes, will end up with promotion or at least deserved appreciation from the board? Let me return to try and answer that question later on.
I have recently come across a wide range of different situations some of which I have been very impressed with and others where I have felt fearful for the fate of the whole IT group. For example, I recently visited one organisation which was moving its entire operation into the cloud, but hadn’t even bothered to audit the number of applications they had or how they would operate it at all in a fully deployed cloud environment. At the other end of the scale I encountered a very small organisation that had been logically working through the cloud journey and had actively involved all of their users in a number of small studies to gauge the end user experience.
On the same day that I visited this organisation I returned home to discover that my wife had decimated most of our garden. She is a very good gardener and during the summer it always looks fantastic for which she rightly takes all of the credit. I asked her what the reason was for this extreme behaviour and she pointed out that you have to be ruthless with a clear plan if you are going to achieve your end goal of a great garden during the growing season.
Which is where I suddenly realised is where there is a good analogy with some of the tribulations which IT leaders are grappling with. If you are looking at a digital transformation journey you have to ruthlessly and logically pick out all of your key applications and prune or do away with the ones that are not working properly and don’t provide value to the business. To do this you have to know your starting point and then audit your existing situation. All too often we come across situations where organisations have fallen at the second hurdle because they discovered that they could not migrate key applications onto the new platform whether it be public, private or hybrid cloud.
So my advice to all CIO’s this year is to take plenty of time to understand your application landscape, flows and the interdependencies with the business and users before embarking on your digital transformation journey. I suggest that Cisco has just spent $3.7 billion on AppDynamics for exactly this reason although this is only part of the picture for digital. Gaining a full end to end view of your service from the start of the application lifecycle to the end-user needs to have multiple analytics correlated into a single view of the digital experience.
So returning to my original question, about “board appreciation”, According to Forbes, “Who needs to lead Digital Transformation during 2017
”, CIO’s and CTO’s are still only involved with leading digital transformation in 19% of companies, the vast majority being led by Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s). There is no doubt that going digital is not easy, but basics such as application discovery and audit can make the task a lot easier and give the IT leader control of their destiny
In summary I hope that our latest white paper, "Six lifesaving tools for CIO’s to escape from the Digital Jungle" will go some way towards helping CIO’s to provide clarity in “their digital garden” this year with structure and colour and with the accolades from the business ringing in their ears. The key thing to remember is pruning the garden properly and ruthlessly with a sound plan in the Spring, will provide a beautiful vista of calm and tranquillity as the digital garden matures towards the end of the year. Our ideas will help to assist in ensuring that the digital garden doesn’t become a digital jungle from which the CIO has to escape.