Beginning to plan out a digital transformation in earnest can seem a daunting task. It’s one thing to pitch it to the executives; it’s another entirely to put what you’ve pitched into motion. With so many questions that need answering, where do you start?
Looking beyond the CIO
Contrary to what many would believe, the first question that needs to be addressed is not “what,” but “who.” To refer back to the oft-used metaphor of “getting the right people on the bus,” the first decision in creating a digital transformation strategy needs to be who’s along for the ride, rather than where you’re headed. After all, digital transformation is an ongoing process, not a single target.
As your company’s needs and the market as a whole change, so will your travel itinerary. You don’t want people who are on your bus for a specific A to B trip, but rather people who are ready to go wherever they’re needed. This will give your organization the tools for a flexible digital transformation strategy—which in the end is the only kind that works.
Furthermore, digital transformation is a highly interdisciplinary process. A successful digital transformation cannot be implemented by the CIO alone; digital maturity requires previously separate departments to pool their areas of expertise in order to create something new. Attempting to transform an organization without this kind of collaboration will only result in stagnation and infighting, as uncoordinated departments clash over who is accountable for roles and tasks that don’t fit within traditional boundaries.
Digital transformation is not just about new technology, but about using that technology to form deeper and more meaningful relationships with customers. That being the case, it’s only natural that the CMO needs to be along for the ride.
Customer experience has always been principally the domain of the CMO, and their insight and creative vision on the topic is a crucial resource. However, as more customer information is available to businesses ever before, marketing turn needs the help of IT to collect and analyze the new data. This in turn allows marketing to advise and direct IT on what customer-facing strategies to implement with more accuracy and precision than ever before. Only through this cross-pollination can the innovation digital transformation requires become possible.
Much ink has been spilled already on the importance of working with the CMO for digital transformation. Substantially less attention has been paid to another, equally critical player: the CFO.
In a recent study by CFO Research, a full 60% of finance executives reported that they are poorly equipped to produce financial reports and analyses that can keep up with current rates of organizational change. This should be an immediate red flag—companies must remain on top of their financials at the best of times, let alone when taking on new risks in an uncertain market.
Digital transformation requires agile budgeting done in short cycles, so a business can adjust the budget as needed while experimenting with new strategies. In order to do so successfully, however, finance departments must be kept in the loop. Provided with the needed tools and data, the CFO will become an invaluable resource for planning agile budgets and minimizing risk using in-depth, up-to-the-minute insights on the company’s financial position and needs.
Having a diverse set of riders on your bus that can contribute an equally diverse skillset is the number one priority when embarking on a digital transformation. Only by collaborating with each other can each department bring their best to the table; and that’s how real innovation begins.