Gerhard Hartman, Vice-President: Medium Business, Sage Africa & Middle East, explains the barriers which CIOs can face when undergoing a Digital Transformation and how to overcome them.
CIOs need to take a more strategic role in driving innovation in their organisations if they are to keep up with the rapid pace of digital change. But as they seek to reinvent IT from top to bottom for the digital era, CIOs run into a range of cultural, technology and process barriers. Here are a few and some ideas to overcome them:
A lack of vision and co-ordination across the business.
Digital technology affects every part of the organisation, from logistics, HR, financials, and production, to sales, marketing and customer experience. Yet many businesses have not yet successfully aligned their functions and departments behind a coherent digital vision. Digital Transformation efforts in different teams and departments remain fragmented and difficult to scale.
Barrier-breaker: Lead from the top
Companies where the CEO and their C-suite colleagues drive the Digital Transformation strategy will have a more coherent vision. The Chief Executive, CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), CHRO (Chief HR Officers) and the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) should all work closely with the CIO and Chief Digital Officer to align the business and technology behind a compelling digital strategy spanning the business.
Legacy systems and entrenched processes inhibit innovation
Many organisations have legacy processes and systems in place that make it difficult for them to create innovative services, channels and solutions to support digital workforces and employees. Their inflexible platforms are not suitable for new-generation technologies such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics. They come to see IT as an impediment to growth and innovation rather than a strategic enabler.
Barrier-breaker: Embrace the cloud
The rise of the cloud helps CIOs speed up time to market with new applications and innovative services. The cloud is a great enabler, allowing executives and colleagues access to real-time data anywhere and anytime. With cloud solutions now reaching maturity, businesses are now turning away from legacy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to more flexible and cost-effective solutions with a more rapid path to value.
IT budget keeps the lights on but there’s no money for innovation
IT budgets are under pressure and the strain is only going to grow as companies seek to mitigate the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. CIOs are managing to keep operations going with their existing budgets, yet there is not much money left for strategic growth initiatives or innovative projects to position for the future.
Automation is a quick-win way to save time and money that can, in turn, be reinvested in value-adding areas such as innovation. Automating processes through business applications helps take the pain out of compliance and other operational requirements.
Successful Digital Transformation depends on internal users (employees) and external stakeholders (customers, partners and others) adopting the technology the organisation provides. Yet cultural resistance to new technologies can be high in some companies with some users preferring their own tech or the old systems.
CIOs need to work with customer experience teams to understand how consumers and employees interact with back-end systems through the mobile apps and web front-end their companies offer. CIOs must enable fast, simple and seamless access to data and services to accommodate complex customer demands and make sure these systems are available all the time.