The term digital is in its full glory, and I suspect it will remain there for the next several years. While it took me some time to warm to the term, I am learning how to leverage. Digital provides a common taxonomy that brings technology and the business closer together to create value. If for no other reason than this, I am fast becoming a digital evangelist.
The role of IT in digital depends on the specific organization and how it is wired. There is no one size fits all approach. That said, there are basic components that every IT shop, across industries, must do to digitally enable their organization. While some can be done independent of the business, I recommend blurring the lines to the point an external observer could not differentiate the CIO from any other member of the C-Suite. Invite everyone.
- Digital Platform. Before you can digitally enable the business, you must have a framework. If your Board asks what IT is doing to support digital transformation, you show them your digital architecture. It should fit on one-page, removed of technical language. If it takes more than one-page, start over.
- Digital IT. A roadmap of how the IT shop itself is digitally transforming. IT shops have no street cred if they preach digital yet operate old school. We must eat our own dog food. Lead by example.
- Digital Transformation. What ideas are you bringing to the table? I argue that IT is in the best position of any internal division to see things through a digital lens. Therefore IT should be co-leading digital discovery, opportunity and execution.
- Digital Evangelism. What actions are you taking to help your organization mature its digital capabilities? What are you doing to showcase digital examples? Here are some ideas to propagate digital.
DigX. This is the cross-functional team of teams we pulled together to create our organizations digital strategy. While led by the CIO, all other members are outside of IT. DigX is regularly consulted for all things digital. Thinktank.
DigE. This stands for the digital enabled enterprise. Every 10 days, examples of digital transformation are shared with organizational leaders. The format is a mix of short-form video testimonials and infographics. In 2 minutes, leaders view two videos and infographics highlighting digital @work.
DigT. This is the name of our digital platform. The single page centers on our organizational cornerstone (vision + strategy) from which 6 areas of transformation emanate. Each area contains a short description of digital capabilities and the strategic partner whose technology we lever.
DigI. This one-page contains the latest disruptive breakthroughs and ideas we could pursue based on DigT. It is the vision page where the dreams are aspirational yet grounded. Constantly updated.
Retool for Digital. To leverage digital and create strategic value, IT shops must embrace one more capability to realize success. You cannot run IT like you did 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. You can’t at once be digital and traditional. You will frustrate yourself and your customers. Before we tried to master any of the “Dig” variations, we transformed the entire IT shop into Agile. We completely flipped the way we work. We operate just like many of today’s powerhouse companies. To compliment Agile and ensure high-reliability, every IT member is IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundations certified. ITIL is regarded as the gold standard of best practice IT and is a condition of employment.
Digital transformation requires IT to think, operate and serve differently.
Why go Digital. None of this is easy. In fact, it is hard. But rewarding. For the promise of digital to manifest in your organization, there is no easy button. Take the lead. Work with peers. Leverage the digital opportunity. Take risks. Shepherd in a new era of IT and business collaboration. Digitally transform your organization and industry, creating value for your customers. The reason we are in business. They deserve our best.
This piece was written by Ed Marx, who currently serves as CIO at the Cleveland Clinic. Marx has held leadership roles at a number of organizations, including Texas Health Resources, University Hospitals, and The Advisory Board Company. To follow him on Twitter, click here.
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