Who Needs To Lead Digital Transformation In 2017

The Forbes article, linked below, contends that leadership of digital transformation should transition from the CMO (outward facing) to the CIO/CTO (inward facing).  This aligns with unrelated research from Gartner.

Gartner recently observed that IT is being “re-internalized” by enterprises as they realize that technology is essential to competitive differentiation and advantage.  This makes sense, and frankly shouldn’t be a surprise.  I would add a couple of other factors:

Mature businesses are realizing that signing up for a hodge podge of SaaS services does not a coherent strategy make. Unguided, the business is at risk of making a mess of incompatible services, weak security, poor productivity and disjointed tools.  Business functions do not have Enterprise IT’s deep institutional experience of crafting strategy and aligning technology with the business.

The no-longer-so-emerging technology trends of cloud computing, mobile devices, social media and big data analytics are in some ways at odds with each other.  And certainly at odds with many risk-averse, stability-hungry legacy systems.  By heavily adopting cloud, you’re effectively just concentrating services somewhere other than your own old data center.  Or maybe in multiple somewheres.  For example, the analytics you want to run are being built from social media feeds, IoT devices, and other enterprise services, which may or may not live in those same clouds.  Integrating all of these services and data at the edge of your enterprise, while delivering high performance, strong security, and cost-effectiveness, is essential if you want your digital transformation to pay off.  But it’s also pretty complicated.  Complicated enough that you still need a really solid IT shop to make it all work together.

Lastly, IT reinternalization is evidence of a natural next-phase of digital transformations.  Digital transformation, for most organizations, has been driven by the customer experience.  The products and services that are delivered, how they are delivered, and how the enterprise interacts with the customer.  CMO’s most often lead digital transformations, and given the customer-driven angle this makes sense.  Especially in businesses which have historically not been heavily technology-driven in the first place, the CMO filled a vacuum.

But as digital transformation yields successes externally with customers, it will then turn inward.  This is the CIO’s domain.  Of course, the CIO has not been idle the past few years,.  There will have been cloud adoption to complement or replace legacy infrastructure.  BYOD to cope with, nee exploit, IT consumerization, etc.  Mobile devices.  Machine learning. DevOps…. And many more.  And, according to Forbes at least, this will pick up pace and require strong leadership from the CIO and CTO.

Source: Who Needs To Lead Digital Transformation In 2017


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