Archive of: Leadership
Digital leaders share three common attributes.
- Leadership: In addition to having a formal digital strategy, digital leaders are much more likely to have the CEO leading their digital transformation. But CEOs don’t work in a vacuum; two-thirds of respondents view their CIO as critical to the success of their digital transformation as well.
- Data & analytics: Digital leaders use data and analytics to a much greater degree – both to understand what customers want and to improve operations and forecasting.
- Open to taking risk: Innovation, invention and change all involve risk, and digital leaders are significantly more open to taking risks in pursuit of new digital business opportunities than are hybrids and non-digitals. And they build this into their culture.
We all know how hard change can be. Whether we like to admit it or not, every one of us performs at least some parts of our jobs on auto-pilot; it's more efficient for our brains to operate that way. That makes it hard to do things differently.
When leaders introduce a significant change without a lot of communication around what will be different, why it's happening (including connecting it to something that matters to each member of the team), and how the change will unfold, they shoot themselves in the foot. They inevitably encounter a lot of friction if not downright resistance to the change. In the best case, this slows things down. In the worst, this has led to multi-million dollar failures.
The chief digital officer was the third most in-demand C-level position this year, according to executive search firm Korn Ferry. The rise of the chief digital officer (CDO) reflects the disruption being felt across industries from digital transformation and the impact this is having on organizations' business models. Well over half of respondents to a recent survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services say their organization's business model will be radically different in three years. These changes don't just happen; they need to be led.
I have to admit it — I'm baffled. In all the research I've done in the past year, business leaders again and again say they believe the CIO is the right person to lead digital innovation. And yet, again and again, there's a gap between where everyone — CIOs and their business partners included — think the CIO should be and where they actually are. CIOs just can't seem to break out of the technology service provider role.
In the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services study, "Business Transformation and the CIO Role," 94% of respondents said CIOs would add the most value to the business by either leading business technology transformation or, even better, leading IT-driven business innovation and strategy. Only 6% voted for the CIO to focus on running the IT function to support business operations. And yet the vast majority — 70% — said that's exactly where the CIO spends his or her time.
I've also had a number of conversations lately with strategic CIOs who view their role as helping their business leverage information — they frame the digital opportunity in that context. Sure, they need technology to do that, but that's not where the value lies or how they define their role.
I just had my first highlights reel made and I'm pretty excited. I delivered the opening keynote at the Oracle Cloud World conference in Boston in December 2014. Oracle did a great job filming it in the first place, and my friend the very talented videographer Craig Kimberley at Skyprop Media did a great job editing it down to a couple of minutes. This shows both my onstage work and the kinds of (very visual) slides that I create. I hope you like it!
I've saved the best for last in this series of posts on responsive IT. In our survey of 750 business and technology leaders (around 200 from IT and the remaining 550 from other parts of the business), 42% of respondents believe the CIO is the best suited member of the C-suite to lead digital transformation. (Yes, I know this term has become overused, but this is what we're talking about, so I'll learn to live with the shame.) That's more than twice as many as chose the CEO (18%). And that number shot up to 64% when we singled out the IT respondents. This is great news for CIOs, right?
Yes, but... when we look at the responses of general managers, things are less clearly defined. While CIOs still lead at 30%, there are also strong votes for the CEO (21%), LOB leader (17%), and COO (15%). This makes sense. As digital business becomes more pervasive, it is absolutely incumbent upon non-IT leaders to understand the opportunities and threats digital represents and to do everything in their power to drive their organization's ability to compete. Some of them are becoming quite astute in this regard. It's also true that even if the CIO is responsible on a day-to-day basis to lead this transformation, not much will happen without a clearly articulated vision from the CEO.
IT has become integral to many aspects of business, from marketing and customer engagement to new product design. This requires a new way of organizing and engaging across functions.
How important is this cross-functional engagement? It's huge. Seventy-five percent of the 750 respondents to our global survey (see “The Leadership Edge in Digital Transformation," from HBR Analytic Services) say that their company's survival depends on their ability to effectively exploit IT, and almost all — 90% — said that collaboration and communication between IT and other stakeholders in the business is essential to their ability to do so.
Business leaders anticipate dramatic change in all aspects of their operations over the next three years, according to recent research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (you can download a copy of the report I authored, Business Transformation and the CIO Role, at the HBR website). Some companies are accelerating this change by committing to IT-enabled business innovation as a core strategy. To understand just how massive the changes will be, consider this: 70 percent of these “innovation accelerators" (about a third of respondents) expect the ways in which they engage with customers to be transformed in three years, rating it eight or higher on a 10-point change scale. That's right: 70 percent. Transformed. Sixty-four percent anticipate that same degree of change in their products and services, their business models and the ways employees work.
Influence: the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command. For most CIOs and their teams, this is the only way to get things done.
Here's an excerpt from my Persuasive Communication and Influence workshop.
This article is based on my Persuasive Communication and Influence workshop.
The CIO role spans and must influence all parts of an organization without directly controlling them. Today's trends — global, mobile, data-driven virtual business — increase the stakes and make CIO influence not only important for the CIO's personal success but for the success of the company as well. This requires skills and competencies that may not come naturally to many IT leaders.
There are two main trends that are driving a shift in power in IT.