Monday, December 15, 2014

CIO’s Role in Crafting and Executing Digital Strategy

IT plays a pivotal role in executing the digital strategy.


Digital is an era of collaboration where information is in the hand (smartphone, tablet or computer ) of the user. The digital strategy is essential for companies in the digital era and requires a new way of viewing the organization via the lenses of collaboration, instead of silos.Digital is blurring physical and virtual world; professional life and personal life; local and global; and it is blurring "hard" & "soft" aspects of businesses.

Digital strategy weaves all key business success factors into the digital symphony. What is interesting with the digital strategy is that the soft aspects (culture, leadership, and people management) are as important as the harder aspect such as technology and marketing tools. Digital organizations are often characterized by a continuous transformation correlated to the changed customer behavior and technical evolution.


IT Strategy is the most significant component of the corporate digital strategy. It is how to leverage the resources and assets of the IT departments to create the optimal business value - which in the next step, will generate revenue growth, brand or increased market shares. The IT Strategy is the responsibility of the CIO and works as a foundation for driving business success. The two types of strategies can be integrated, but it is important to understand that responsibility, objectives and needed resources to be successful. The digital strategy is not bound by one functional area (such as IT), but rather included the whole organization with a mission to increase customer experience and engagement - and hence increased market shares and revenue. The IT strategy, on the other hand, focuses more on how the IT department can increase business value (and in some cases productivity).


IT plays a pivotal role in executing the digital strategy. Senior executive teams shall take co-responsibility of crafting and executing corporate digital strategy. However, CIO is in the right position to oversight business processes/capability, fit for “conducting” digital strategy because information is the lifeblood of digital businesses. Digital organizations are moving from IT-business alignment to IT-Business integration and engagement. The CIO leads on the provision of information, and that various functions across the enterprise shall work more collaboratively than ever, decide what they need and then applying it strategically and operationally when it's available. This is  different from the more traditional enterprise areas of back-office business process-related IT applications, where the CIO is responsible for supply and business functions are responsible for determining needs and for using the applications in more silo way. IT plays a pivotal role in executing digital strategy, the CIO and his/her people need to collaborate very closely with other functional CxOs and their people to ensure optimum outcomes.


The relationship between CXO peers has the new focus on leveraging big data and information and applying outside-in customer-centric view.  In practice, even in the simplest organizations, Industrial 'Speed' is not homogenous across the enterprise (differences between 'front office' & 'back office'; enterprises with multiples businesses and associated business models). So many organizations will have to 'mix & match' at least two different Industrial 'Speeds' with appropriate IT Governance styles, accommodating the result in different steps of digital Strategy cycles. The digital executive collaboration focuses on providing, analyzing and interpreting complex data patterns rather than processing large volumes of simpler business-process related transactions, and work seamlessly to manage data-information-knowledge-insight life cycle, to break down silos and ensure business as a whole more optimal than the sum of the piece. But in all such relationships, the CIO needs to have a very good grasp of the overall business, its strategy, marketplace, business model and competitive distinctiveness to ensure that the IT-enabled business solutions supplied to the enterprise deliver maximum value at acceptable cost with optimum services/solutions.


Digital strategy making and execution are a collective effort of IT and other business departments to fit business purposes, leverage digital speed and delight customer. Digitalization is driving unpredictability demanding a more rapid deployment that quickly can adapt to the changes and adjust to the new market conditions, it requires IT to run as a business, becomes a value center and game changer for business’s digital transformation.  

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