Richard Raj says enterprises had different responses when discussions emerged on the need to become digital businesses.
Some companies "waited it out", recalling the dotcom era and its spotty record of winners and losers, he says. Or they thought, "Yes, we have a few internet projects, we are okay."
Other companies, however, delved into it and invested in major digital projects.
Then startups disrupted traditional industries. Out of the blue, those industries that did not invest in digital areas started to get disrupted too, he says.
"When I think of taxi companies, they thought, 'everybody needs transport'. They continued to optimise the systems for the drivers and the head office.
"After Uber took off, some taxi companies were talking about starting an Uber equivalent. By that time, Uber already had got the market share.
Richard Raj, group digital solutions and innovations manager for business technology at Frucor (Photo by Divina Paredes)
Digital migrants and digital citizens
Raj says the disruption wrought by digital startups to traditional businesses is happening in a similar way to the heads of ICTs and IT teams today.
Most people in the senior ICT management layer today rose through the ranks.
"We know our job around technology really well," he says, referring to the current executives holding the titles of CIO, CTO, CDO.
"We have been adding value to the business for some time," says Raj, who has held managerial roles since the early 90s.
In his case, his roles ranged from applications/operations manager, through to development manager, manager IT services and solutions, head of business solutions to acting group IT director, working in publishing, manufacturing, media, entertainment and transportation and warehousing operations.
"However, in my experience in the digital space, it's a whole new ball game. A lot of the way we used to do things before, and the way we matured, is no longer very relevant in terms of how we approach processes and even the technology in the digital space.''
For a CIO who is tasked to also take on the role of the chief digital officer or work with one, how can they ease into leading through a decidedly different digital environment?
"First, you need to become immersed in the digital world yourself," he says.
"Without immersing yourself, without really understanding the subject matter, all you are doing is selling something without the expertise," he says. "You can't argue and debate the point.
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