Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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6/5/2014
03:20 PM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
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The CIO's 2 New BFFs

Now that business is digital at its core, it's time to buddy up with the CDO and CMO.

Is your business digital? A better question to ask is: Which part of your business isn't digital? Most organizations -- whether they are corporations, government agencies, healthcare organizations, or educational institutions -- are now digital at the core, including their interactions with customers.

Still not convinced? Here's what George Westerman, a researcher at the MIT Center for Digital Excellence, had to say about the companies that his research has found to be "digital masters." For them, "technology is not technology. It's an opportunity to rethink the processes of how they do business."

[Lets not forget the question of corporate culture. Read Geeks Versus Jocks: CIOs, Beware Your Culture.]

He discussed his team's research during a panel session on business transformation at last month's MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Boston. "Digital masters all have a common approach to managing digital and are 26% more profitable than their peers," he said. "They lead differently. For all the talk we've seen [advising us to] 'let innovation happen around your organization,' these leaders drive transformation from the top down."

Westerman and his research partners identify companies as digital masters if they meet the following two criteria:

  • They invest in technology with the viewpoint that it represents an opportunity to transform their business, and they have leaders who are proactive about finding ways to use digital technology to benefit all aspects of the business.
  • They drive technology innovation across all business departments, marrying a clear digital vision with a strong governance foundation, preparing the company to change, and seeing that change through.

He gave some examples in a prepared statement, citing Nike, Caesar's Entertainment, and Chilean mining company Codelco as digital masters:

[Nike] is end-to-end digital, from supply chain to design and marketing. It combines custom-designed social media with a digital supply chain. By creating its Nike Digital Sport group, Nike linked all of these functions together, and the company is able to launch more products, customize products, test new designs, and customize advertising to a highly personal level. Within a Caesar's venue, customers are supplied with a concierge on their personal phones that immediately responds to any need, perceived or actual. And the largest copper company in the world, Codelco, is using digital technology both to track production in its copper mines and to update customers about orders. Digital technology also allows Codelco to use driverless mining trucks, and it may even help increase production while minimizing the volume of human activity underground and corresponding safety concerns.

According to a report released earlier this year by Forrester Research, the "biggest test on the road to becoming a digital business is convincing senior management that it's worth the effort. Only one in six of the 1,254 global business execs surveyed by Forrester said his or her company has the competencies to execute a digital strategy.

Indeed, as he noted during the MIT CIO Symposium, "If you think of your organization as a caterpillar, then digital should turn you into a butterfly." The problem, he said, is that many of the businesses his group has studied "are using digital to turn themselves into really fast caterpillars."

What does all this mean for CIOs? For one thing, it's time to

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Susan Nunziata works closely with the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community. Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for ... View Full Bio
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Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/17/2014 | 4:54:36 PM
Re: CDO turf
@WaqasAtlaf: So perhaps organizations really need a Chief Coordinating Officer. It seems that it's most often in the executiion of projects that things fall apart, good project management is hard to find in any field. why do you think it is that so many organizations struggle so much with execution and implementation?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/17/2014 | 4:51:42 PM
Re: CDO turf
@larryloeb: Truly, I thought you were kidding. I did not see that about PF Chang's moving to the old-school carbon paper credit card processors. They're certainly harder to hack, that's for sure. 

Another option, of course, is for everyone to start paying cash again...

Ya, I get it about the CDO title, seems like companies are a little too eager to call people Chief-This and Chief-That these days, which certainly seems to weaken the power that should be implied by the position. Certainly CIOs have a hard enough time getting their ideas through to the rest of the corporate leadership, so I can appreciate your skepticism that a CDO would have any better luck at it. 
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 11:54:08 AM
Re: The CIO's 2 New BFFs
I see where a lot of you guys are coming from when doubting the need for a CDO position at most companies (and believe me, I'm the first one to jump aboard any kind of anti-buzzword bandwagon at any opportunity). However, I think we're leaving a key point out of that discussion here, and it's exactly what Susan was trying to focus on in the article. "Technology" is no longer a subsection or a feature of most businesses - it's everywhere, and it touches every part of the business. At a certain point isn't saying the CIO should manage all that technology, all the time kind of like saying the CFO should micromanage every department's budget (which, maybe some CFOs do, but that's a talk for another time)? Do you really want all that extra work and does it really fit in the job description you signed up for when you joined?

As for the over-abundance of C-level positions, it definitely is a noticable trend, and we're right to stop and wonder if it's really the right way to go. I think there is a reason, for it, though. We talk a lot these days about the importance of 'nimbleness' or 'agility'. Startups can move so quickly because nobody there has to answer to anyone - everyone is in charge of what they're doing. There's something to be said for that agility at big companies. If you want to hire a 'digital' officer to manage your customer-facing technology projects (that is, to solve a problem you have now), does it really make sense to appoint him under the CIO? There's logic in the idea that if you want to see results, you need to appoint someone who's autonomous - and who's more autonomous than a chief?




SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 8:37:09 AM
Re: CDO turf
Your situation sounds very familiar and I would be in the same position if our executives didn't agree on so many issues.  There are times when I am stuck in the middle of differing opinions but it is often an issue of how to tackle a problem not so much a fight about where my efforts should be focused.  I also have moments of "when did he ask you to do that" which are uncomfortable but those are short lived and less stressful than full on power trips over who should be directing my department.

 
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
6/15/2014 | 8:14:36 PM
Re: CDO turf
@Waqas, I agree. The role of the coordinator is a the catalyst of the whole operation. To be an effective coordinator requires some skill.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
6/15/2014 | 6:29:49 AM
Re: CDO turf
Susan, agreed. The role of coordinator is very important. How to implement things without least affecting the routine operations is an art.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
6/15/2014 | 6:18:05 AM
Referees doing the convincing part
References often help in convincing organizations in adopting particular technology options. Executives feel more comfortable if they hear from other non-IT peers who have used such options. Bridging this mind-gap can be best done by the developers of technology if they refer their clients to existing users.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
6/14/2014 | 10:20:25 AM
Re: CDO turf
@Larryloeb, Your comment brought me back to feeling nostalgic too. It reminded me of when my teacher used to use carbon copies for our "dittos." I am surprised PFChang's are operating so old school with the credit card imprinter slips. I actually forgot all about those slips until reading your comment.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/13/2014 | 6:21:57 PM
Re: CDO turf
@Susan

You think I'm kidding about carbon paper. When PFChang's got breached this week, they went back to old school credit card imprinter slips done with ink and then batch processed. Made me feel nostalgic, it did.

I'm really not knocking the CDO concept, BTW. Anything that can give the C-level a clue is always welcome. I just think they wont listen much; even to good ideas. Inertia and all.

 

 
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
6/13/2014 | 3:54:38 PM
Re: CDO turf
yes, I see the same trend... but thing always change in corporates board rooms...
<<   <   Page 9 / 12   >   >>
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Trying to meet today’s business technology needs with yesterday’s IT organizational structure is like driving a Model T at the Indy 500. Time for a reset.
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