In an article earlier this year, our CIO Chris Bedi highlighted how
successful digital transformation will create a place where
you move faster, make better decisions and compete effectively in the
Yet Chris also points out that digital transformation is very much a
journey, not a switch that companies can flip. And it’s the journey
that is the focus of my conversations with business leaders across
EMEA. They have a vision of their digital transformation destination —
what they really want to know is how to get there.
This journey was a key point of discussion when I met with global
market intelligence firm IDC recently. CEOs are increasingly
integrating digital as a core element of their corporate strategies,
yet IDC has found that 65% of CEOs in Europe are feeling the pressure
to deliver a successful digital transformation strategy.
Creating the new digital transformation task force
What’s clear is that the responsibility for delivering digital
transformation is no longer being placed solely at the door of the
CIO. And why should it be? According to IDC, 62% of the budgets
invested to support digital transformation initiatives are coming from
outside of IT.
Within those organisations that are thinking strategically about
digital transformation, the leads of multiple business functions are
finding themselves on the front line when it comes to taking on the
pressure that is filtering down from the C-suite — including finance,
HR, customer experience (CX) and operations.
It’s a shift that I’m seeing first hand when talking to leaders
within European organisations. The CIO may have opened the business’s
eyes to the potential of new technology, but heads of key business
functions are now recognising the huge benefit that digital workflows
bring outside of the IT function in removing complexity within their
processes and creating new experiences for employees and customers.
True enterprise-wide digital transformation requires alignment
across all business functions, yet it’s important that we don’t
underplay the role of the CIO. This new ‘digital dream team’ (as IDC terms it) needs
someone in the driving seat — and the CIO is the orchestrator who will
execute a company’s digital transformation.
The impact of the high-performing CIO
CIOs with a
strategic or disruptive mindset aren’t shy to grab this new
opportunity and engage in a different way with their C-level peers.
For business leaders, digital transformation isn’t a technology
project, it’s a business initiative — one that is supported by technology.
A recent study from ServiceNow adds support to what we’re seeing
within our customer base about this change in focus: CIOs are shifting
their conversations from technology to business value.
Two key findings in particular stand out: nearly two thirds (63%) of
CIOs believe business and leadership skills are more important than
technology acumen, and the most successful CIOs have positioned
themselves as business visionaries, not technology specialists.
High-performing CIOs are building C-suite influence —they have
strong relationships with other business leaders, in particular the
CEO —and their focus is very much on strategy versus operations. By
aligning the goals of IT with the goals of the business, they are
executing digital transformation strategies that are advancing
efficiency, financial performance, productivity, employee performance
Perhaps most importantly, the forward-thinking CIOs also report
higher levels of productivity, innovation and customer satisfaction in
Building consensus and action
CIOs are no doubt ahead of
their business peers in understanding the true potential of
technologies such as the ServiceNow platform in making work more
streamlined and meaningful. Many are seeing success already by
applying digital workflows within the IT operations and IT service
management, for example.
Their role today is to open up that expertise and related technology
to every other part of their business. Many of our customers started
their digital transformation journeys within IT and are now building
consensus and action around automating work processes to drive
outcomes in multiple business areas.
For example, at consumer credit reporting company Experian, the VP
of global service excellence has spoken out about how, with
ServiceNow, they have “a single system of engagement that extends far
beyond IT”. And at the NHS Blood and Transplant, an essential part of
the UK’s NHS service, the team talks about how ServiceNow has become a
way of life, citing “We don’t have to sell it… it’s selling itself.”
It’s clear that digital transformation isn’t a difficult
conversation starter for those CIOs who are ready to take on this
challenge enterprise-wide. They have already experienced the power of
platforms like ServiceNow in accelerating their digital transformation
journey, through automation and digital workflows.
What’s important now is aligning with their leadership peers so they
can unlock the potential of technology and drive business value in all
areas of the organisation, whether that’s within HR, finance, customer
experience or any number of key business functions.