It's easy to see why things changed -- they had to. Ambitious business executives got fed up with waiting too long for information and answers from IT. So, they took matters into their own hands. For the first time, they got freedom of choice from various best-of-breed providers and could select the solutions they wanted to drive business innovation, fast. However, in doing this, they failed to keep an eye on the overall company context.
As different lines of business pursued different services, offices soon filled up with innumerable cloud and mobile solutions. With the arrival of more disruptive technologies and the digital transformation, these solutions have fast become unmanageable. Ironically, this has left businesses hamstrung in their ability to be agile and react quickly to changing market demands. They are trapped in exactly the very situation they thought they were escaping. So, what's the solution?
Businesses need a center of gravity that can pull things back together.
They need somebody who can develop use cases and strategies built on new, disruptive technologies, and lead the business into the digital age.
Adapt and Innovate
With today's unprecedented pace of change, digital transformation is inevitable. In fact, it's already begun. Smart and innovative challengers are leapfrogging industry borders and disrupting business models. They're selling digital services to former physical product markets and leaving established market leaders in their shadow. In this new era of 'Digital Darwinism,' it's not the strongest businesses that will survive, but those able to keep up with consumers and technology and adapt quickly to change. Because if they don't, they will simply be out-innovated by peers and new challengers.
To lead the company successfully through digital transformation, a combination of strong business and technology leadership is required.
Look at the arrival of the smartphone, for example. It disrupted the business models of torch producers and camera producers from outside the niche.
So, where does the disruptive, digital transformation leave the CIO? And what does it mean for the traditional role of IT -- is it still relevant to businesses?
Innovation over Information
Before the digital transformation, analyzing the business model of an organization was easy and allocating roles was straightforward. LoB executives' responsibility was to innovate their departments and grow the business. IT executives' role was to run the company, to 'keep the lights on at highest efficiency.' But these roles are no longer so clear-cut.
There is the unique opportunity for CIOs to transform the role of IT - not to be chief 'information' officer, but chief 'innovation' officer.
Today, there is the unique opportunity for CIOs to transform the role of IT -- not to be a chief 'information' officer, but a chief 'innovation' officer. They can create use cases and strategies for market innovations and help the company to gain new market share built on the technology foundations of cloud, mobile, big data, and the networked economy.
Time for Change
Achieving success in digital transformation will be a balancing act. While the company will still need people to help 'keep the lights on,' there will also be new, different requirements.
Fundamentally, commodity-oriented roles will become less relevant. Many basic services will be consumed via specialized providers based on new technologies, such as cloud and the networked economy. In contrast, businesses will need people who can analyze and understand the impact of technology and its opportunities for the company. This is about delivering added value and having specialists, with strong business expertise, who are keen to define and adopt best practices.
Align with the Business
To lead the company successfully through the digital transformation and win the race for new market share, a combination of strong business and technology leadership is required. IT roles need to change -- not necessarily at high speed but at the right speed and, more important, in the right direction to support the business strategy.