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Who is really responsible for digital transformation?


27 October 2016

Chris Lindsay

Blogs by author: Chris Lindsay, Head of Digital Transformation, BT.


The word ‘digital’ is everywhere, it’s no longer just in the domain of the IT department. I work in Marketing and digital is a huge part of mine, and all my colleagues, jobs.  But it’s not just Marketing, it’s part of the day-to-day conversation across the organisation.

Last year McKinsey published research suggesting that companies need to integrate digital capabilities into all aspects of business. Its analysis of companies with a high ‘digital quotient’ – the digital maturity of a company and its ability to be competitive in an era of technological disruption - revealed 90 per cent of top performing organisations have fully embedded digital initiatives in place.

The same principle remains true today. In order to withstand the pressures of digital transformation, companies must weave the digital thread into every fibre - from processes and data, to operations and people.  As a result, changes are taking place at every level. In turn, this is reflected in representation at the boardroom table. So what does this mean for the CIO? Who is responsible for digital transformation?

The CIO: deeper into the boardroom

According to our recent CIO research, pushing out digital strategy organisation-wide is viewed as the biggest obstacle to digital transformation by 43 per cent of senior IT professionals. While 39 per cent feel the biggest test is developing new business models to cope with increased connectivity and engagement, and 31 per cent think the onus is on recruiting talent with appropriate digital skills.

It’s not surprising that 86 per cent of large companies now possess a CDO.  That role differs from the CIO in two main ways; sole responsibility for digital vision and development (48 per cent) and a greater focus on innovation (44 per cent). Interestingly, there is a considerable difference in the appointment of CDOs by country. In Belgium and the UK & Ireland, only 60 and 68 per cent of companies, respectively, have a CDO. In both Australia and Netherlands, by contrast, 97 per cent of organisations have appointed a CDO. The research shows that CIOs still remain firmly responsible for deciding on IT strategy at board level, IT budget and maintenance of infrastructure.

With this in mind, the smart CIOs are pro-actively encouraging feedback across the business and welcoming CDOs with open arms. By leveraging great ideas from the business and working together, the digital and IT strategies will complement each other.

So who is responsible for digital transformation?  Everyone.

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