Monday’s Musings: Why Digital Transformation Must Move Beyond The Hiring Of A Chief Digital Officer

Published on April 25, 2016 by R "Ray" Wang

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Digital Transformation Kicks Into High Gear As A Boardroom Priority Yet Most Leaders Unprepared

@rwang0 From P2P To Authentic Business

Whether it’s the fact that 52% of the Fortune 500 have been merged, acquired, gone bankrupt, or just fell of the list, or maybe it’s the paranoia that a small startup anywhere in the world can disrupt the established business models of existing giants, digital transformation has emerged as a top 10 priority in the global board room.  With the board applying pressure to management teams to “go digital” and “disrupt or be disrupted”, most innovative organizations have taken the first step by appointing a Chief Digital Officer.  However, in conversations with over 100 organizations engaged in digital transformation, the appointment of a Chief Digital Officer alone will not resolve the overall needs to make the shift.

Success Requires More Than Just A Chief Digital Officer

While the Chief Digital officer plays a major role in identifying, orchestrating, and evangelizing digital transformation, successful organizations have mobilized their leadership and driven the executive buy-in required for success.  These market leading organizations have progressively applied the seven ABC’s of digital transformation adoption and :

  1. Appointed a senior level executive to the post of Chief Digital Officer
  2. Brought design thinking approaches to the business
  3. Crafted innovation programs and launched innovation labs
  4. Developed programs to bring innovation concepts to business model execution
  5. Embraced a culture of digital artisans and change agents
  6. Fostered partner ecosystems for co-innovation and co-creation
  7. Given middle managers latitude to fail fast and learn even more quickly

Lesson Learned From Over 100 Organizations Show The Power Of A Change Agent Culture

Digital transformation by nature must disrupt existing business models.  The inertia of doing nothing is powerful.  The will to change even harder.  The FCC’s CIO, Dr. David Bray often talks about the need for change agents.  He’s wildly correct.   At a recent client innovation summit in Dubai, market leaders shared similar lessons learned in digital transformation and innovation programs.  For most of these market leading companies, success required their teams to over come items 4 and 5 on the adoption scale.  Taking concepts to business model execution required executive leaders to pull the trigger and take risks instead of just accepting the status quo.  Embracing a culture of digital artisans and change agents tested an organizations appetite for celebrating failure and building from mistakes.

The challenge for successful organizations is disrupting their existing business.  The challenge for organizations being disrupted is finding the leadership to drive the cultural challenge.  Board members need to understand that results do not come overnight.  More importantly, digital transformation ultimately requires the organization’s DNA to change and they need air cover from their boards to make it happen.

Your POV.

How are you preparing for digital transformation?  Would you like to hear what other organizations have embarked on?  Would you like us to present to your boardroom?  Learn how non-digital organizations can apply a road map to disrupt digital businesses in the best-selling Harvard Business Review Press book Disrupting Digital. 

Add your comments to the blog or reach me via email: R (at) ConstellationR (dot) com or R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) org.

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