CIO Challenges: Digital Transformation At Enterprise Scale As a CIO, how do you keep your organization’s digital transformation on track while adapting to today’s constantly changing business landscape? Craig Knighton Chief Operating Officer CIO challenges come in many forms, mainly in how you can approach digital transformation for your organization at an enterprise scale. Let’s face it: being a CIO is difficult. That’s more true now than ever before. Like many CIOs, you probably spent the last several years deep in a multi-year digital transformation within your organization. The purpose of this massive shift was to prepare your teams to meet the digital challenges of the coming decade. But then, you found that all of your business priorities had changed drastically and suddenly. Any hope of completing the transformation on time fell sway to new challenges. Your transformation switched to supporting remote access to your business and internal systems by customers, employees, and business partners. You may have even breathed a sigh of relief at this sudden change in priorities. These existential new challenges likely shifted attention from the fact that your transformation was languishing and your organization’s scale-up of Agile stalling. Trying to apply what worked so well in your small team proof of concept to your larger, more complex enterprise systems and their teams proved more challenging than initially thought. You realized there would be a lot more to it than just scrum ceremonies and iterative development. CIO Challenges: Delivering a digital product is a lot more than just writing code. One of the most common challenges we see is that people underestimate how to transition from an IT organization into a full-fledged product organization. In an IT organization, technologists are fully adept at deploying and maintaining business systems primarily bought rather than built. And therein lies the challenge. Becoming a product organization entails much more than just knowing how to manage vendors and servers and stitching them together with just enough custom code to get the job done. It’s also about providing a world-class user experience. Your customers use so many other consumer-grade products with user experiences based on careful research and human-centered design attributes. If the experience your product offers doesn’t match their expectations, expect to hear about it. When the pandemic grabbed the wheel (and the technology strategy), many CIOs had renewed confidence to focus on doing everything necessary to provide safe, secure, and scalable access to their servers and systems. At the time, users and team members were just grateful to continue doing their jobs in any UI — no matter how much grace it lacked. Few had the time or resources to build bespoke experiences during this time. Instead, the focus was on buying and quickly deploying any solution that provided digital access to your services and systems. CIO Challenges: Your product needs an exceptional digital front door. Two things are true now that we are emerging from our homes and home offices. First, almost every industry has its customers expecting digital front doors to its services. Second, standards are also quickly rising to expect a well-designed service experience that is easy to use and addresses users’ needs from a mobile device. These two revelations should raise several important questions in your mind: How will I shift my team back to renew the needed transformation now more than ever? How will I compete for the design, content, and technical talent needed to imagine and create engaging consumer-grade user experiences? How can I afford to build a “product” organization that is adept at planning and communicating long-range roadmaps? How can I keep all the teams busy with release plans and product backlogs full of good, actionable work? How do I help my company understand that we are not a software product company too? How do I convince them that IT is no longer a cost center but is increasingly responsible for enabling new revenue streams and services? How do I explain that traditional IT skills, structure, salaries, and cost benchmarks will prevent you from making the right investments to make all of this possible? CIO Challenges: Take Advantage of the Tech Trends We recently covered how trends in technology are affecting our clients and our business. To quickly recap, those trends are: Global shortage in technical talent Shift towards the human-centered design of high-quality user experience, composable architectures, and citizen builders Rise of data Mobile user experience While partly responsible for the difficult situation we are in, these trends also provide important clues to the path forward. In a way, they are all interconnected and limited by the shortage of technical talent: It is driving the innovation in the use of managed services that are integrated with low-code platforms to provide composable architectures It is limiting access to the product management, human-centered design, enterprise architecture, scaled agile, data engineering, and mobile development talent needed to retool your current enterprise architecture As is often the case, this leaves you with a couple of choices. You can either embark on an expensive hiring spree to recruit people with product experience. But be ready to pay salaries that go well beyond what you’re used to paying for IT staff. Your alternate option is to choose the right partner who can augment your lacking product experience with their own. Regardless of which option you choose, what you ultimately need is access to talent with the experience to teach you how to: Complete your transformation Build an effective product organization Design and plan the roadmap to your new enterprise architecture Design the great mobile user experience your users want with the features that they need Expand your technical delivery capacity until you have completed the work Use capital expenditure to fund the work so that it does not immediately overwhelm your operating budget The right partner will provide all these benefits and leave your team with the knowledge and capability to continue to support your needs well into the future. 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