Leaders in a time of change – CIOs and digital transformation

Posted on 15/05/2020 by charlene
DISCLAIMER: this article is older than one year and may not be up to date with recent events or newly available information.

Digitalisation is demanding that every organisation transforms in ways not thought possible even a few years ago. In particular, enterprises are being forced to change their approach to, and application of, technology and the role of IT in implementing that tech. Santiago Franco, Global CIO at travel technology firm Amadeus argues, “In the past it’s all been about business strategy, commercial strategy, product strategy and then how IT or the technology can support it in the implementation. I think most times now the technology is one of the key inputs in order to define that business strategy.”

For both CIOs and the wider IT team, this evolution offers immense opportunity, but it also brings significant demands. NLMLK Verona’s CIO, Pasquale Risimini, points out that “It is not so easy to correctly balance all the needs coming from the business. We have to drive the company but at the same time we have to survive managing the legacy architecture and integrate it with the newer solutions. We have to collect everything just to give internal customers their data.”

In other words, CIOs need to be able to lead the way strategically, technologically and culturally, yet still dedicate as much time to keeping the lights on.

Harnessing the enabler of digital transformation

One of the major enablers of digital transformation is cloud computing. That’s because CIOs are looking for ways to better harness data, deliver increased self-service, unlock scalability and create a more agile operation, all in the service of delivering the technology their businesses need to drive successful transformation. Gartner predicts that 28% of spending within key enterprise IT markets will shift to the cloud by 2022.

Or as Franco puts it, “Cloud is fundamentally changing the way we provide our services.”

But with cloud comes challenges – as well as new technology, cloud engenders new ways of working, of acquiring tools, of procurement processes, governance, compliance and security. To ensure that it’s implemented properly, CIOs need to have a tech strategy, a people strategy and a transformational strategy and be able to execute all of them.

It’s an issue Greg Lavender, SVP and CTO VMware, knows all too well. “When I ran the global IT transformation at Citigroup, the biggest challenge was not the tech. I knew the tech and was able to assemble a team of technologists from the industry to do the engineering and architecture and deliver it. The challenge was getting a 200-year-old institution in a highly regulated industry to adopt new technologies and new ways of working.”

So, how do they need to overcome these challenges? In short, CIOs need to:

  • Be honest about the challenge
  • Be proactive about change
  • Be their users’ destination of choice
  • Be brutal about processes
  • Be outcome-oriented

By taking this approach, CIOs can drive change at a people, technology and transformation level, ultimately delivering the success the business is looking for.

Addressing complexity to deliver transformation successfully

CIOs have a major challenge ahead of them. They need to change the way the business operates, both from a cultural and technological perspective, while keeping the lights on. But if they can overcome those obstacles, both they and their organisations will reap the rewards.

It requires putting the people, the process and the technology in place strategically.

To read more about how CIOs of major enterprises are adapting to the digital era, how the likes of Santiago Franco, Pasquale Risimini and others are shaping the digital transformation of their businesses, and to see what some of VMware’s top experts have to say on the matter, take a look at How the cloud can help CIOs close the Innovation Execution gap, an ebook from MeetTheBoss and VMware.

And if you’d like some help dealing with the challenges you currently face, get in touch today.


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