Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
Commentary
6/5/2014
03:20 PM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
Commentary
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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
6/25/2014 | 3:59:06 PM
Re: CDO turf
@WaqasAtlaf: lack of persistence is spot on, and I would add that with so many shifting priorities in an organization, it becomes very difficult for many people to keep their eyes on the endgame and fully execute.

That's certainly been my experience, when I look back at great ideas that never saw the light of day. More often than not, it was because I had too many conflicting priorities and immediate, hair-on-fire deadlines, and so anything that was not crucial got pushed to the back burner, or pushed off the stove entirely.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 3:56:11 PM
Re: CDO turf
@H-H: Ah, such a good question! The best that a person can do, I think, is to try not to take anything personally, understand as best as possible what is motivating all the players, and be honest and forthcoming with all parties. It may end up backfiring on you, but at least you can go home and look yourself in the mirror at night! And, if the political situation in the organization is truly  toxic, I would suggest finding another place to work if at all possible.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 3:53:46 PM
Re: Digital Master definition
@kstaron: Based on my understanding of the MIT research, and seeing Westerman discuss the findings at the CIO Symposium, what you describe would not qualify a company as a digital master according to their definitions. The top-down, holistic approach is truly key, I think, in terms of embedding a tech-forward approach into an organization's DNA. It doesn't mean that digital innovation can't bubble up from diffferent busienss or tech unitis within the company. Quite the contrary, in fact, a company that is considered a digital master would have a structure that allows and encourages digital innovation to come from all corners of the organization. The difference is that the senior management embraces and supports this, both culturally and financially.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 3:50:24 PM
Re: CDO turf
@SaneIT: That's exactly the kind of attitude I'd love to see more of in business. Your teams are lucky to have you, and I do hope that you are able to achieve your career goals. In the meantime, perhaps you can provide some executive coaching to others who are in the higher positions and don't grasp -- or have forgotten -- the very basic edict we all have learned from childhood: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

 
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
6/25/2014 | 6:24:11 AM
Re: Amazing
The digital era has simplified a lot of work in different fields including government cooperation's, educational institutions and health care organizations. CDO and CMO partnering up with CIO will make work much faster and effective in the eventual long run. Companies are only left with the responsibility of investing in technology that will advance the company and bring about profits. This technology should also be properly and to be effective.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 6:44:11 PM
Re: CDO turf
I wish that inspiring and leading were at the top a C-levels to-do lists however it is not. It isn't even on their radar in most companies. In fact in many companies you cannot even approach them unless you go through the chain of command. To me most of them are just politicians who are looking out for their own skin and glory. You are correct when you say the doers will find a way around them to get things done. I think that is the rule these days.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 1:22:31 PM
Re: CDO turf
Susan

"why do you think it is that so many organizations struggle so much with execution and implementation?"

Lack of persistence. People start off with things but cannot keep their focus on the tasks and monitor each and every aspect of it regularly. That is where things go wrong.
WaqasAltaf
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WaqasAltaf,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 1:04:31 PM
Re: CDO turf
Angelfuego, yes. Determination is the biggest skill in my opinion. The lack of follow-up is the factor which often results in failure to achieve the desired objectives.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/24/2014 | 11:26:33 AM
Re: CDO turf
@tjgkg

If C-level positions can inspire and lead the folk that actually do things, they have a useful position in the enterprise. It's obvious enough to be valid.

But if they don't do that, the doers will find a way around them to get things done.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 11:08:47 AM
Re: CDO turf
I agree with you. It is becoming like there are too many chiefs and not enough indians at this point. And having another C-Level person is sure to cause more politics which corporations have more than enough of. I wish companies hired more regular workers and let the existing chiefs actually do their jobs.
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