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Courage is currency for the digital CIO

Courage is currency for the digital CIO


Kevin Leahy - Group General Manager, Data  Centre Solutions, Dimension Data

One of the top competitive issues facing organisations today is the need to become an agile, digital business. Yet, recent research indicates that most are failing to make the transformation. In this blog post, I’ll share some of my thoughts on why businesses are struggling … and consider the place of courageous IT leadership in bridging the digital divide.

Today, digitisation is a disruption that no business can afford to ignore, and survival depends on having a responsive IT function. Executives want their CIOs to lead the charge and find ways to exploit information technology so that the business can better compete in the digital era. However, recent research undertaken by the Business Performance and Innovation (BPI) Network in partnership with Dimension Data indicates that in many cases, efforts are falling short of expectations. Entitled Bringing Dexterity to IT Complexity, the Report has initiated some debate and, I believe, warrants further discussion.

The research reveals a concerning lack of alignment between IT teams and business leaders. Over 90% of business executives who took part in our latest survey say that they’re on the path to transformation and understand the importance of new technologies in this process. Yet two thirds of IT professionals surveyed indicate that their IT transformation ‘has not yet begun’ or ‘is just beginning’.

I believe that those who’ve already begun their journey will reap the rewards of this early action. In fact, I foresee an era characterised by a widening gap between leaders and laggards. We’re seeing a new class of leaders – made up of first-movers – who’ll be able to move so much faster than the laggards. Over the next few years, we’ll see them build rapidly on this advantage, widening their margins, and gaining in speed and agility while the laggards muddle through the early steps of their transformation. The longer the laggards wait, the harder it’ll be for them to catch up, and the more significant their competitive disadvantage. Simply put, businesses can’t afford to fall behind.

The presence of bold and courageous IT leadership will play a significant role in separating the leaders from the laggards. CIOs really need to start rethinking their roles in order to deliver the new approaches to innovation wanted by the business and to become the drivers of digital transformation within their organisations. To succeed, you sometimes need to do what’s considered unconventional and challenge the traditional ways of thinking and doing things.

At a recent CIO roundtable in Singapore, the regional CIO of a leading insurance brokerage firm made a comment that resonated with many. She said: ‘An organisation needs a courageous CIO to make a decision about something that he or she might not be 100% confident about. If the CIO doesn’t have the courage to do it, no one will.’

Of course there’ll be an element of trepidation when you take a new path and commit your resources ? and in truth, the fate of your company ? to new technologies. But now, CIOs must think hard about the necessity of making these changes, and assess their readiness and comfort level for embracing them.

To read more about my thoughts on the role of courageous IT leadership in driving digital business transformation, click here.

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