CEOs want IT to move from the back-office to driving revenue. Aggressive digital business strategies are putting pressure on CIOs to have a direct impact in business outcomes like growth, customer experienceand profitability.
We asked Partha Iyengar, vice president and Gartner Fellow, keynote speaker at the upcoming Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016 in Goa, India, to explain what’s important for CIOs at this stage of the transition to digital business.
1. What are the top issues facing CIOs in India in 2016?
CIOs are being asked to increase the business value that IT is able to deliver, and equally important, to quantify it. The CEO and business management wants IT to move from a predominantly back-office focus to become a front-office centric organization that directly impacts business outcomes like growth, customer experience and profitability. This is often in the context of an aggressive digital business strategy within a growing number of enterprises.
2. What are CIOs hoping to learn at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo this year?
This is the year of focusing on the execution or implementation of digital business strategy, along a journey that has been four years in the making.
Starting with the Nexus of Forces at Symposium four years ago – the foundation for today’s digital business – we move to a strong focus on the ‘how’ of putting a digital business together in this year’s Symposium.
Key elements of enabling infrastructure like the digital business platform will be unveiled this year, which will enable CIOs to create the right foundation to support the business agility required in a rapidly evolving digital business environment.
3. Can you shed some light on the CIO’s digital transformation journey – where are we today?
Given that digital business is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach, with the priorities varying drastically depending on what kind of company and industry the CIO is in, the digital transformation journey also varies.
For example, CIOs in asset intensive industries like manufacturing are likely to start with an inside out, operational excellence driven focus. This will likely take the form of initiatives around the integration of IT with operational technology, leading to an Internet of Things play as their early moves along the digital transformation journey.
A CIO from a B2C enterprise (for example, in banking, retail or transportation) is more likely to focus on outside-in customer experience and external ecosystem driven initiatives. Both of these approaches should ideally be coordinated with a strong focus on enhancing the digital capabilities within the enterprise as well – called the digital workplace– to create a digitally capable workforce.
4. What’s the CEO’s biggest challenge in transforming the organization to a digital business?
The biggest challenge involves creating a vision for the digital transformation journey, including the reasons why a change is needed. The next challenge is to have the enterprise leaders share and buy into that vision, followed by the cultural transformation needed to get the entire enterprise focused around the execution of that common vision. In addition to all of these significant people and cultural transformation challenges, CEOs are also grappling with the need for new skills and competencies (such as data scientists, analytics professionals) that are in short supply.
IT has to change significantly as well to support the digital business vision. This is critical for CEOs as was shown in the 2015 CEO survey that listed IT as their #2 business priority (just behind growth).
5. What are senior executives in India asking you about their digital transition?
The conversations I am having with senior executives focus mainly on the business model changes, the leadership skills needed to drive digital business and the need for (or not) for a Chief Digital Officer.
In enterprises where the CIO is seen as a strong ‘business’ leader, not just a technology leader, these conversations with the CEO or COO usually include the CIO. In enterprises where the CIO does not have the credibility of being a business leader, the conversations happen without the CIO in the loop, which often means that the CEO is keen to bring in a business and P&L centric leader to drive the digital business initiatives.
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