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Digital transformation & CEOs: Where’s the disconnect?

By Stephanie AlKhafaji


It’s no secret that digital transformation is critical to almost every business model today. And almost every C-suite executive realizes this. The advantages of digital transformation are well known – it allows for greater flexibility, enables speedier innovation, drives competitive advantages, helps streamline operations and, ultimately, can improve customer relations and loyalty. It also can have a big boost when it comes to overall corporate revenues – some envision the economic benefits to be between $1 and $7 billion annually.


But why is digital transformation so difficult to achieve? And what steps should an organization take to make sure they properly execute such a strategy?




From a strategic point of view


When you’re jumping into a digital transformation, it’s important that you evaluate your current situation, understand the risks involved with the transformation, identify critical resources, and create a plan to mitigate risk.


But before you do any of that you need an owner. Digital transformation starts with an owner who understands the vision for what your business can become post transformation – as well as someone who has the drive to get it done. It’s critical that the right executive or corporate leader be chosen to ensure the vision is achieved.


While there are many characteristics that make up a successful leader, probably the most important is stamina. These transformations, especially in larger corporations, can be met with resistance and roadblocks – choosing a leader who has the stamina to push through for the long haul is imperative.



It’s all about IT


Digital transformation affects an entire organization, but many often think it lives in the IT department – and this is typically where the problem lies. Not that your IT department isn’t incredibly capable and talented – they are. It’s because IT departments are usually overwhelmed managing and dealing with your current existing systems on a minute-by-minute basis. On top of that, your IT department is just one piece of your business ecosystem. Successful digital transformation is all encompassing. It’s a new way of looking at the landscape of your business. Approaching this type of transformation through just one lens of your business is a sure-fire way to slow progress.


The challenge for leadership then becomes to create an infrastructure that allows for the daily complexities of IT management to function as usual, while also nurturing an agile operational infrastructure that allows for quick adoption of transformative technologies, while ALSO approaching the transformation from a connected point of view that deconstructs organizational siloes. (When you put it like that no wonder most businesses fail.)



Don't be scattered


Today’s technology landscape is strewn with all kinds of systems and platforms. And a study of technology decision makers found that 54% wished they had deployed their technologies on a single, unified platform.


Part of the problem starts with the role IT plays in that it puts a lot of effort in managing existing systems as well as implementing new ones. The result oftentimes is a complex technological landscape with little to no platform intercommunications. That’s why most organizations are shifting to a single platform, which can include multiple-point solutions (two or more technologies on a single platform) or custom-built solutions.




So what’s the best approach?


When striding into the world of digital transformation, pulling together a cross-functional team headed by a leader with a strong vision is a must. This team can focus on integrating multiple technologies into a single unified platform that will allow access to legacy systems and data. For those companies that have implemented a unified platform, they have experienced a more collaborative environment and the benefits of having a “single source of truth,” which go a long way towards achieving the goals of digital transformation.


Bringing agility to enterprises starts with digital transformation, which will help unlock the true value of data – and it could bring C-suite executives closer together with their IT counterparts.



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