The 3Cs for every CIO to get their IT department ready for digital transformation

The IT Department, which was hitherto a “supporting” function, is suddenly being looked at as the “most critical” function for implementing their digital business strategy needs.

Balaji Raghunathan Jul 02nd 2018
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The need for every organization to transform themselves digitally in order to ensure that they survive in business has provided a rare opportunity for most CIOs to have their voices heard in Board meetings.  The IT Department, which was hitherto a “supporting” function, is suddenly being looked at as the “most critical” function for implementing their digital business strategy needs. Increased “criticality” to business needs however requires the CIO to transform the way the IT department works.

Serving the Digital needs of the business requires the IT department to be agile and flexible to cater to the changing and demanding needs of their consumers as well as being able to deliver shorter time-to-market projects. How can the CIO ensure that the IT Department is ready to address the needs of executing the organization’s Digital Transformation strategy?

Raising the capability quotient of the IT department

Based on the transformation objectives, digital transformation could mean improving customer experience or improving the operational performance of the company or introducing new business models or a mix of all these in various degrees. It is imperative for the CIO to figure out the capabilities that would be needed to support the digital transformation initiatives of the organization.

Customer experience initiatives may involve capability of a 360 Degree view of each customer as well as each product, customer relationship management and customer service improvement capabilities, commerce capabilities, user experience initiatives, mobile apps and chatbots. Operational efficiency initiatives can involve business process management, case management or robotic process automation or Internet-Of-Things (IoT)-based capabilities.

Business Model changes may involve introduction of business platforms or APIs or rolling out “as-a-service” initiatives.  All of these initiatives may also require big-data and streaming analytics capabilities, and capability to integrate with Cloud-based systems apart from existing systems of record and must be compliant with Data Privacy laws. Developing reference models for each of the new capability required will provide a view of the target capabilities required.

Raising the collaboration quotient of the IT department:

Supporting digital transformation initiatives requires the IT staff to have the ability to adapt to fast evolving technology landscape. There is a need to embrace DevOps culture and collaborate with not only internal stakeholders, but also work with the startup ecosystem.  The need for collaboration is not just limited to people, but also between systems. Digital initiatives will require the architecture to be flexible enough to support agile systems of engagement integrating with the more slowly evolving systems of record.  
For better collaboration, the KPIs and metrics defined for measuring performance of the IT Department must be translatable to business KPIs and metrics. For example, increase in the number of successful digital transactions must be relatable to the improvement in availability as well as performance of the systems.

Raising the compliance quotient of the IT department:
Securing the IT assets from insider as well as external threats is a must for the Digital Transformation to succeed. Assessing the security and privacy state of the organization and defining measures to ensure regulatory compliance is a must for any digital transformation to succeed.  Classifying data and tracing how sensitive customer data is collected, stored, processed and shared internally and externally will provide a view of how to address compliance risks for the organization.

Embedding SecOps (Security Operations) into the DevOps teams, “Privacy by Design” and “threat modelling” during the early stages of new projects ensures that there is lesser chance of regulatory non-compliance. A plan for investing on Cybersecurity and Data Loss Prevention tools and a standardized mechanism to identify, fix and report security breaches go a long way in raising the ability of the CIO to comply with the needs of regulators.

Thus “Capability”, “Compliance” and “Collaboration” form the 3Cs, which every CIO must focus on to get their IT Department ready for executing the Digital Transformation strategy of their organization.

Balaji Raghunathan is General Manager and Associate Partner for the Technology Consulting & Enterprise Architecture group within ITC Infotech.

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