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The CEO’s Critical Role In Digital Transformation

Kevin Taylor, President, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, BT Global Services | April 20, 2016
Kevin Taylor of BT Global Services talks about the need for CEOs to get on board with leading their organisations' digital strategy.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

BT's Kevin Taylor
Kevin Taylor, President, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, BT Global Services

The digitisation of businesses is proving plenty of opportunities to leverage new and emerging technologies to reinvent the way they do business. However the journey to transform the business into a digital enterprise is not easy. Many companies are struggling to translate this transformation into a competitive advantage.

A key issue is that leadership involvement in digital strategy formation and employee engagement remains limited. Often, when the demand for digital technologies is needed, pressure is exerted on the CIO to drive changes that can make the business more agile and customer responsive.

Many CIOs are unfortunately unable make the transition into a steward of the transformation as they are often viewed as facilitators in technology and service delivery.  A successful digital transformation requires a combination of top-down leadership and bottom up innovation.

The single largest frustration many CIOs face is that although CEOs aspire for more strategic involvement, many are only interested in technology only when direct returns can be measured. Some simply cannot separate IT service from IT strategy. Without the CEO's participation, important elements are often neglected, which prevents companies from investing in innovation.

The Right Approach To Going Digital
Transformation is a complicated exercise and can only work if a digital strategy is in place. This needs to be first embraced or driven by the CEO, not the CIO. The company's leadership needs to create a vision and to share and align departmental stakeholders behind the vision.

The CEO needs to ensure that their senior leaders - including all C-suite executives - understand how to proceed. The CEO needs to understand why they must change, and how the changes can improve the business.

In some companies, the CIO is the best person to suggest, support and even lead digital initiatives; in other cases the digital agenda will be driven by the business or by joint IT-business teams.

Leadership must ensure their companies invest in the right areas. These range from creating a better customer experience, social media, mobile, customer analytics, process digitisation or internal collaboration.

Most companies cannot do them all at a go. The leadership must identify where the business can excel now, based on its existing capabilities and strategic assets. The company could start to digitise the operations to enable better clarity and transparency in the business, so that productivity or performance management can be better measured; or invest in revamping the customer experience by developing more touch points to better engage with customers.


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