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Why the C-Suite must be the one to drive change

We all know that in today’s fast-moving digital economy, organizations must be prepared to adapt their business model and welcome innovation or lose their competitive edge.

The critical question is: Who is responsible for this process? The most obvious answer would be for your IT team to lead the charge. While this may be a useful starting point, it is not ultimately where a digital transformation project should originate. Ultimately it must be a top-down process, led by the C-Suite – including the CEO, CMO, CFO and CIO or CTO. Digital transformation is clearly not a one-person job.

Successful digital transformation

Ultimately two strategies underpin successful digital transformation.

The first is the obvious one and includes project plans, roadmaps, and other preparations for modernizing, streamlining, and future-proofing your IT systems and infrastructure. The second, which is often overlooked, is to ensure that your C-Suite team is ready, willing, and able to be the agent of this transformation. And they need to be prepared to provide strategic direction and directly add value to the process, including providing adequate human resources and support to the IT function.

Develop a roadmap

C-Suite leaders must also nurture and help their organization develop the capabilities that are needed to implement and sustain change. These include educating the business at large about the possibilities of digital initiatives. IT leaders themselves may also have to learn a few new tricks. They, like their businesses, must prepare to be transformed. This could include outsourcing their digital processes or forming joint ventures or partnerships to boost their digital capabilities.

Thus, CIOs and other critical decision-makers must develop a digital roadmap for their organization that covers three areas:

  1. making IT processes clearly relevant to the broader business (in terms of outputs and outcomes)
  2. building the capability to deliver transparency around costs and performance
  3. developing a forecasting capability to continue responding to the business’s needs and ensure it continues to adapt to the world around it.

Analyzing digital capability

With this roadmap in place, the broader organization can now focus on change. There are three steps to follow:

  1. Identify required capabilities—what’s needed? This is a “blue sky” question and should be answered without regard for current capabilities.
  2. Audit current capabilities—to determine to what extent the IT function can supply the services and deliverables needed, including by up-skilling or upgrading current resources.
  3. Acquire needed capabilities—whether by bringing in new talent and technologies or developing existing ones.

This simple approach will help ensure that your C-suite – and your organization – is ready for digital transformation and prioritizes the collaborative nature of the process.