CIO as Digital Leader – What Does That Look Like?

Oct 12, 2016
5 Min Read
CIO as Digital Leader - What Does That Look Like?

In this new world of digital transformation, the role of the CIO doesn’t look much like it used to. It’s clear that CEOs need to own the Digital Leader role, but what happens in those cases when the responsibilities get delegated to the CIO?

The responsibility won’t be delegated by default by smart CEOs who want their companies to succeed. There are specific characteristics required for the CIO to perform successfully or risk becoming irrelevant as the business moves forward. Gartner has even suggested that replacing the current CIO should be considered if that person is not capable of growing into the new scope of being a digital leader.

There are a variety of opinions across the web about what the important characteristics will be for the CIO who is the digital leader. Many are in agreement that traditional responsibilities as they relate to IT will need to remain the responsibility of the CIO. But others think the entire role should be disrupted to focus solely on being the digital leader.

So what does that look like?

Digital Strategist – Look into the future. Be able to align the entire C-suite around the digital strategy for the company. Transition from being a service provider to the driver of a plan and roadmap that guides the digital transformation of the company. Educate and guide other C-level executives to ensure digital strategy is integrated within all facets of the business where possible.

Business Partner – Everyone starts somewhere. It’s likely that each member of the C-Suite has some understanding of what digital is about, but no real idea how to put it into action to help their department contribute to the goals of the company. Find ways to partner with each line of business to make their jobs easier. Integrate tech staff in their operations to speed up implementation and changes. Listen carefully to their pain and offer solutions that will take them to the next level.

Organizational Transformer – Technology alone won’t help a company achieve its goals. It takes the people within the company to make it all work together. But just like the C-suite, current staff likely won’t have the appropriate skills to help take the company forward and move along with it. Be the champion who works with HR to define employees’ skills, knowledge, and ability that will be needed to carry the company through the digital transformation into the future. Help them define a plan to upskill current staff and create the organization that will support the direction the company is headed.

Culture ChangerLots of change can be scary when it’s taking place within an existing company. Work with the C-level team to form a communication plan that excites all staff from the top levels to the front line. Help them understand how they are part of the process and what things will look like when it’s done. Tap into early adopters and let them be a part of leading the effort. Reward innovation and highlight the things that are going right in the company on the digital front.

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