The much heralded digital transformation (DX) that we’ve all been hearing about is here. It’s already impacting the way business is done today and it’s certainly going to influence how it will be done in the future. For chief information officers (CIOs) – who are tasked with the responsibility of maintaining legacy IT systems and applications, while supporting the emergence of new business models – DX can present some formidable challenges.  

According to the IDC, the biggest issues facing IT leadership today revolve around business needs, capabilities and availability as they relate to DX. Advancements involving Cloud, analytics, social, and mobile technologies are quite literally reshaping the customer experience and opening the door to new business opportunities. And as a result, CIOs are being asked to shorten the time required to provision these new services, while still finding ways to reduce CAPEX and OPEX.

To accomplish these ambitious goals, IT organizations will need a strong focus on innovation and cross-functional partnerships. This means discovering better, smarter ways to enable the business. As the speed and data capacity of today’s foundational technologies grow ever faster with Wi-Fi approaching 100s of gigs of speed, 5G moving towards 3 gigs in the near future, routers soon being able to handle terabytes of data and virtualization technologies in the cloud, IT must develop the business agility to react quickly.

CIOs have a unique responsibility as the true Guardians of the Connected World, making sure their business successfully executes on its DX strategy. The traditional role of the CIO is rapidly evolving from that of a legacy protector to one of a progressive thinker who stands at the center of transformation. This requires the delicate, yet critical task of supporting innovation, while ensuring service quality, integrity, and security.

The key to successful innovation starts with a sound business vision. Failure to think long-term can doom an IT organization to failure and wasted resources. At the same time, CIOs need to be proactive in educating senior management on how the technologies in the organization will come together to achieve transformative goals going forward. This is what is required to obtain buy-in from the outset.

Another key is to be flexible when it comes to innovative ideas. Organizations should experiment with different innovation models, repeatedly testing different approaches until the right one emerges. This is, in fact, the way best-in-class companies like Google and Apple have gone about attaining better processes, better solutions, and better ways to enable the transformation needed to improve both the customer experience and bottom-line revenue growth.

As DX places greater demands on IT innovation, CIOs are ideally positioned to examine the big picture and assume full ownership of business assurance, which will prove to be critically important on the path to successful transformation. As CIOs, this is our time to shine as Guardians of the Connected World.

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