Has the CIO Gotten the Memo?
I started reading Fortune Magazine when I was pursuing a 2nd Masters in Business Strategy. I liked Fortune because in contrast to the weekly business publications, it focused on the strategy behind the story. One of the things that I did not tend to read initially was the Editors Desk. But recently, under Alan Murray, it has become a place where high value ideas are shared.
This Editor’s Desk edition is entitled “we are all technology companies”. Here Alan reviews the results of the Fortune’s Global Forum for CEOs. In this meeting of old world and new world CEOs, the era of digital transformation was proclaim. Here my key takeaways.
- New World companies are trying more crazy ideas and a taking more shots at the goal than old world companies
- Old World companies have shareholder bases that do not want them to do new things
- Old World and New World companies need to be continually disrupting themselves
- We are all technology companies now. Monsanto and John Deere have just partnered for example to stream real time data on soil and crop conditions back to Monsanto headquarters
- Competition can come from anywhere in an IoT connected economy.
- “One result of this digital explosion is that traditional boundaries separating industries are blurring. Wells Fargo CEO said the people who are influencing us the most are outside our industry—the Apples, the Amazons, etc.”
- The greatest challenge isn’t technology but people. The right culture is the central challenge for surviving technology driven change.
Given this, I was shocked when I then picked up another publications article called “Ripe for Disruption”. The article referred to a survey of 100 CIOs conducted by UC Irvine’s Center for Digital Transformation. The results were as follows:
15% of CIOs saw digital transformation as critical to their success
41% of CIOs viewed digital transformation as part of their growth strategy
44% of CIOs do not view digital transformation as crucial to their businesses
I got an ear full when I shared this with the CIO’s in #CIOchat. One CIO asked whether the 85% are asleep. Another said this is puzzling. These CIOs are sleeping at the wheel and won’t see the deer until it is too late.
Another CIO tried to explain the numbers by saying that the 85% must be focused on short term needs driven by CEO or the Board of Directors. His guess was if the business leaders were to see digital transformation as critical to their success, the CIO would, too. He went on to say successful digital transformation needs the “iron triangle” of CEO, CFO, CIO working together.
Other CIOs said this should be the other way around. This is why digital transformation needs CIO leadership. The CIO has to a show leadership that digital is crucial to the business. To this, the explaining CIO said, I agree CIO must show leadership, but digital transformation equally requires leadership from CEO, CFO and the Board of Directors. He continued by saying CIOs must get the management team and CEO on board, then they all have critical roles in digital transformation.
At the same time, CIOs said, to truly innovate and bring about digital transformation, CIOs must be willing to take risks, fail and learn quickly what works. Lastly, this CIOs said that digital transformation is not a phenomenon that just happens. Successful digital transformation is pragmatic.
The CIOs that I know are clearly telling me that they have gotten the memo. The CIOs that are succeeding show leadership in digital transformation and are able to sell management on taking the journey. Clearly, for those that haven’t yet shown this leadership, they need know that their CEOs are already on board.
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