Driving digital business and mobility: guide for CIOs

Utilising the principles of human centric business reinvention will be crucial for CIOs looking to drive a digital-first business.

The alignment of digital technologies and corporate business goals is now essentially defining organisations’ growth and success. For most, it won’t come as a surprise to know that reaching a younger audience is a lot easier on mobile devices and as digital natives grow older, this demographic group will continue to grow.

Sensible businesses have already taken note and are adapting accordingly. 49% of organisations globally are heavily investing in digital technologies; the others will, almost inevitably, be in serious trouble in just a few years.

It’s no longer become a question of sector: in every sector, technological advancements can greatly facilitate and improve the efficiency, capacity, and output of enterprise.

>See also: Digital business trends 2017

The use of technology to address problems has become so common that it no longer confers a competitive advantage to have it; rather, we should think of “lack of technology” as a competitive disadvantage. And it is this pressure that leads to a very common mistake: The ubiquity of business technology, at least in the western world, is sometimes misinterpreted by CIOs as proving that technology needs to be embedded in every process, procedure, and product that a company makes. This is a well-intentioned but badly thought through approach.

Digital transformation is not about the digitalisation of the existing business. Companies that are doing this are not making the most of the digital revolution and won’t stay competitive long term.

The end goal should not be to digitise a company but to reimagine the business processes and deliver better products, services and cost efficiencies. This will rely in large part on providing quality user experience (UX) and matching the increasing demand for one consistent cross-channel experience, and yes, technology can be a big help to companies in achieving this goal.

However, for CIOs this comes with unique challenges. They are required not only to maintain and migrate existing applications but to support and drive the transformation into digital business.

>See also: 95% of large companies woefully unprepared for ‘digital business’

With resistance to change and the usually siloed business functions, this is not only a technological challenge but a human problem as well. The inertia of individuals in adapting to these developments should be front of mind for CIOs throughout the process of developing mobility.

That means that if end-users don’t respond positively to new releases, companies shouldn’t continue down the wrong path. Most organisations don’t have the discipline to kill resource-draining projects, even when they should. Those who do take the time to think, consult and test their transformations will find there are plenty of rewards down this path.

Results of driving a digital business

For those who embrace digital transformation the benefits are many, with customers and employees alike becoming more invested and involved in an organisation. The benefits can include:

 Enhanced customer experience.
 New revenue streams.
 Better decision-making through democratisation of data.
 Automation of mundane operational processes.
 Improved ROI.

>See also: 3 megatrends that will drive digital business into the next decade – Gartner

All of these components create a strong strategic advantage. As organisations increasingly go down the digital and mobility path, there is a natural need for reinvention of operating models and organisational culture.

The empowerment of individuals through intelligently managed digital transformation should be exploited to its maximum, with the old inefficiencies of pre-digital era models unrepentantly dropped.

To ensure an end-to-end digital transformation that drives greater business value, CIOs and technology decision makers need to be able to address and adapt to evolving challenges that span across all aspects of business – internally and externally. To meet these needs, it’s vital to understand what success looks like.

Internal buy-in

A key challenge is the internal organisation buy-in that CIOs require in order to successfully devise and implement the digital transformation process. Without getting the people and culture on board, their chances of success are significantly lower.

Change is always difficult to accept, but resisting this change can prove to be detrimental for future business prospects, as an end-to-end transformation expects seamless coordination between IT and other business functions.

>See also: Digital transformation: an analysis of the potential and the challenges

Many employees, acclimatised as they are to their tasks, resources, and routines, will automatically resent the change for the inefficiency it causes in them. The result of this resistance is observed when organisations discount the shift in market demand and lose out on crucial projects and innovation that could give them an edge of their competitors and drive greater revenue.

Worst case it leaves them vulnerable to disruption from competitors and start-ups that are faster and more agile. Moreover, piecemeal adoption of new technology throughout a business can be confusing, leading to more inefficiency, not less.

Again, we return to the importance of keeping people front and centre when making decisions about transformation. If that transformation is internal, rather than client facing, then the primary stakeholders are the employees who must operate the backend software. Facilitating this work results in better output from the company as a whole, and naturally translates into a more positive end-user experience.

To ensure that organisations successfully accompany the shift from traditional business, CIOs must seriously consider what it means to take a human-centric approach.

>See also: CIOs must define an event-centric digital business strategy – Gartner

This means always starting with customer, employee and business leadership problems and truly understanding the problems before jumping to solutions. It also relies heavily on having the right skills and experience.

Delivering successful digital business solutions requires strategists, UX and app development, marketing, big data analytics and device and app management to work together as a team. There’s a lot to coordinate.

A successful digital business is one that embraces the pace of change and thinks long term. The benefits include increased revenue, happy customers who could become brand advocates and motivated employees. 2018 is going to continue to be a busy year for CIOs.


Sourced by Magnus Jern, Chief Innovation Officer, DMI

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...