Analysing the chief digital officer and the rise of the digital enterprise

(c)iStock.com/Mykhailo Ridkous

IT departments need to move beyond keeping the digital lights on and move swiftly toward building the digital enterprise their organisation needs to innovate and succeed.

The demand for business apps is increasing, outstripping the IT department’s ability to deliver them. Many of us are familiar with the stories of lengthy app backlogs and IT project deadline  ̶  and cost  ̶  overruns. These are among the reasons why so many enterprise workers and business managers are turning to shadow IT for the apps and IT services they need.

According to a recent report, the 2016 State of IT: Digital transformation insights based on a survey of 2,255 IT leaders and CIOs from the U.S., Europe and Asia, IT needs to shift to driving digital innovation, rather than investing time, money, and personnel on activities which do not differentiate the company. IT needs to build the internal infrastructure and rely on the cloud services that drive innovation and deliver data-driven context aware experiences when their customers, employees, and partners need them.

The largest areas of growth in investment are in the areas of mobile, cloud, security, and apps for customers and employees. In fact, 68% of IT teams said their enterprises experienced growth in mobile apps, cloud migration, and cybersecurity. 63% and 62%, respectively, have plans in place to increase customer and employee apps.

This focus shows the importance of instant access to enterprise data, as well as the collecting of data wherever users happen to be. It also makes clear that, through the increase in spending on cybersecurity investments, users need to trust their data and that security remains a challenge for many enterprises.

All of this means that if the final stake hasn't already been driven through the heart of traditional IT thinking, it's about to be. Gone are the days of IT projects with long runways with business managers and executives driving their own business-technology decisions  ̶  because of the ease and speed and cost-effectiveness at which cloud services can be bought and put to use. This means that in order for IT teams to remain competitive, they must have the right leadership and vision in place to get them there. Perhaps this is why 60% of enterprises now employ a chief digital officer (CDO). The CDO is helping IT become (or maintain itself as) a pivotal part of the business strategy, leading with innovation.

The chief digital officer is helping enterprises gather new ways to collect, analyse, and put enterprise data to use and help enterprises make the transition from the legacy, on-premise systems, to modern digital business models. Successful IT teams must now be proactive, aligned with customer needs, and on top of digital trends like mobile. And the role of the chief digital officer is to help get them there.

This revolution however, isn't just about end user apps. It's also about managing IT to be as agile as possible. This includes leveraging cloud services that support low-code development by embracing citizen developers  ̶  those workers currently building apps in the shadow of IT  ̶  in a governable way and empowering IT to develop the applications and services they need to as rapidly as possible with cloud. They need to make them easily consumed by all parts of the organisation, not just IT.

It is in these efforts where enterprises are investing so they can not only build faster, but also do so as securely. And according to the survey, just as many enterprises have turned to cloud platforms, they are also turning to microservices (96%), and component driven framework (93%) which are the modern foundation that IT needs to build internal services without having to rebuild and manage as much infrastructure. It's also why organisational approaches that demand tighter collaboration between operation and development teams have taken hold.

Still, embracing these trends alone isn't a guarantee of success. But there are steps enterprises can take to increase their prospects for success. Here's where we believe enterprises need to do to succeed as a digital enterprise in the months ahead:

  • Successful enterprises are rethinking traditional organisations: IT today is all about the business and the people who drive it. This means new skills, new roles and new mindsets for your teams. Embrace low code development and citizen developers.
  • Successful enterprises think customer- and mobile-first: The shift to a customer-first mindset means putting mobile first. Your customers are expecting intuitive apps that work everywhere. IT must leverage responsive frameworks for access across devices.
  • Successful enterprises invest in training and development: The best way to beat the widening skills gap is with education. Once your employees are empowered to use cloud and emerging tech, innovation can follow.
  • Successful enterprises migrate to the cloud: Consumer demands are growing faster than even most experts can track. Relieve infrastructure development and management with trusted cloud services so your team can focus on innovation. Build microservices that may be consumed by both IT and business users.
  • Successful enterprises embrace emerging tech: Technology is always in motion. Today, mobile and cloud are impacting the business – tomorrow may be something else. Successful IT teams stay ahead of trends by being early tech adopters. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

In summary, the rise of the chief digital officer is about putting innovation first to deliver excellent customer service. The successful chief digital officer will bridge the requirements of the business and IT by investing in technologies, and processes that empower all stakeholders. In the end, the chief digital officer is all about customer success. 

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