Going from digital transformation to digital evolution

While chief information officers (CIOs) were traditionally focused only on introducing new information and communications technology to deliverability and stability for business operations, businesses are now relying on technology to transform themselves digitally, becoming more efficient, creating new revenue streams, and increasing agility in the process. 

In this new digital age, CIOs should now address their responsibilities as business leaders, making sure that they play a balanced role between IT and business. In fact, according to IDG, 96 percent  of CIOs report that their role is expanding beyond traditional IT responsibilities such as security, analytics and customer experience. Ultimately, it’s about focusing on how technology contributes towards the top and bottom lines of their organisations as well as on customer and employee satisfaction, turning digital transformation into digital evolution

We have to understand both business and customer priorities as CIOs, while keeping an eye on emerging technologies that can be valuable for the future.  

It’s easy to fall into the trap of recommending technology just because it’s trending, it’s easy to implement, or to simply cover the IT requirements of a project. What’s more important is to make sure that business challenges are understood and addressed, that the technology is rolled out where the maximum benefits can be achieved. 

Globally, a lack of clarity on transformation strategies, insufficient alignment across an organisation and an ineffective or misinformed transformation strategy are some of the reasons that have been cited as to why companies stalled in their digital progress, according to McKinsey

In coming up with a new solution or an implementation, look at the people and the process side of the organisation in addition to the IT side. Ask if the project will change the way businesses can add value to their customers. Make sure the right people understand the benefits of deploying that solution. If not, your shiny new project might not actually see much adoption as stakeholders stay away.

At Everise, I’ve found that involving business stakeholders in the planning process is critical for project success. They’re the ones who are the end-users of the technology, after all. 

When Everise first rolled out robotic process automation (RPA) as a solution, the IT team worked directly with customers. Although the proof of concept was successful, the actual business stakeholders had not been involved in developing it, and this slowed down overall adoption. When we changed the approach to include business stakeholders from the outset, making sure that their needs and challenges were addressed, our rollouts became much more successful. 

It’s that strong collaboration between IT and business which will ensure the success of the digital  project, and turns digital transformation into digital evolution. Consider it a push from the IT side and a pull from the business side. This creates real momentum for any digital implementation towards success, and to achieve business results. 

Projects are well on their way to successful digital evolution if you have these four success factors:

• The right IT solutions team

Delegation is paramount. Ensure your bandwidth is not wholly taken up by day-to-day activities, so that you have time to strategize. 

Your IT solutions team should also act as a bridge between IT and business. IT should be represented whether for new business opportunities or new opportunities from the existing customers. When your team is part of all the business meetings, team members can take note of the challenges discussed, and then think about how technology can give a helping hand to resolving them.

When they have such a balanced role between both the IT and business sides, they also have to be up to speed on emerging trends, not just in the IT space but beyond it. 

Their relationship with the right external partners is also going to be very important if they are to bring the right solution to the business and address the business challenges on time.

• The right technology partner

At Everise, we believe a good technology partner should act as an extension of the IT function of an organization. They can’t be a fully separate, external organization. They have to work closely with your business, with your customer problems, with your business challenges, and make sure that you have the right solutions available.

• The right technology solutions 

This is technology that helps the business become more agile and more intelligent. Before you start a digital evolution project, ask the right questions:

– What are the business challenges that this new digital solution is going to address? 
– What are the expected business outcomes?
– How does the new digital solution bring business success, for example through creating ‘stickiness’ with the customer, increasing customer retention, or getting additional business from a customer?

• The right stakeholders are involved

When projects are driven by the senior executive team, it can make a big difference in getting buy-in from the rest of the business. Ensure that business stakeholders are involved from the beginning, and senior executives too.

Living in two worlds

Today, CIOs have to live in the business world as well as in the IT world and oversee a team that does the same. When you acquire, implement and maintain technology that has a positive relationship with business goals, involving business stakeholders along the way, things are more likely to succeed. 

Think beyond digital transformation to digital evolution – today’s CIO can play a significant role in leading organisations to growth and market leadership.