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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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/3/2014 | 7:46:57 AM
Re: CDO turf
@Susan, I would love to go around teaching my strategy to other managers/leaders.  I do enough of it where I am now that I think I could take my methods on the road.  It's not incredibly difficult but some people have a hard time changing their frame of mind.  I've had people tell me that if they don't manage their employees incredibly closely that nothing will get done.  I usually ask them if the same is true for them that if no one is watching that they will stop working.  After that they tend to get the point, yes some people need a little more hand holding or help with prioritizing work but it's rare to find an employee who refuses to work.  My job is to give them the tools they need to get the job done so if something is getting hung up rather than look for someone to blame I look for where the process is breaking down.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 3:03:11 PM
Re: CDO turf
@Ashish: I do think we're in a state of C-Level overload, and in today's media some CEOs in particular are treated like rock stars, especially in the U.S. It seems from where I sit that corporations based outside the U.S. take a much more realistic view of the C-level roles and the display of wealth is far less ostentatious, for example. 

There's also just an overload of title creep: Everybody gets VP or director titles these days, so the next big thing is to snag a Chief Something Or Other title. The real question is what actual poewr comes along with that title...
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 2:58:57 PM
Re: CDO turf
@Ashish: So glad you found it useful. I have learned so  much from reading this book, and also it has helped me understand how most corporate environments are so heavily tilted toward extroverts as to be damaging. Even something as basic as office design really does not allow for the introvert to be truly productive at work. I hope this can be the start of some new thinking about how corporations accommodate different kinds of people.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 2:50:08 PM
Re: CDO turf
@WaqasAtlaf: And it may well turn out that this is a position that is only necessary for a certain number of years as companies make the transition into being truly digital from end to end. There's a lot of importance to the person who can be the liaison to bring disparate groups together in an organization to mold the future strategy, whatever that person's title  may be.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 2:44:01 PM
Re: CDO turf
@SaneIT: Can we clone you? Sersiously, so few managers have such an enlightened, ego-less view of their roles. Your personal insights on this topic can be put into practice at any level of one's career. Let me ask: Did you learn this from a mentor or guide, or has this always been your personal philosophy since you began your career?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 2:35:35 PM
Re: CDO turf
@tjgkg: Fair enough, though I think anyone who tried to fill Jobs' shoes would have faced the same level of scrutiny and criticism, even if they were a more dynamic personality. Jobs left a huge void and I'm challenged to think of any exec who could fill it. Maybe Elon Musk?
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 6:42:03 PM
Re: CDO turf
I think we need to look from the point... finding, groming and ability of keeping talents in the Co.... as Education and right credentials not always equal right person for a job... how I see it...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 6:39:48 PM
Re: CDO turf
interesting, but in my books other factors in play should not be overlooked... as a lot of the factors depends on the corp. envr. and office politics in play...
batye
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50%
batye,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 6:38:02 PM
Re: CDO turf
let agree to disagree... as simple solution is not always right fit... it depends on the problem... or how complex is the problem at hand... 
batye
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50%
batye,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 6:34:35 PM
Re: CDO turf
could not agree more, proper planing and prepartion is a must in any case... plus investment in the training upgrades.... better safe than sorry... even with human factor...how I see it...
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Transformative CIOs Organize for Success
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