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5 myths about digital transformation

Mary K. Pratt | June 1, 2017
You've heard what digital transformation is. How about what it isn't? Experts bust through myths about digitizing business operations and explain why IT can't do it alone.

The upgrade enables customers, who are primarily business partners such as dealers, distributors and retailers but also individual consumers, to interact with the company in a more seamless manner through a customer portal. It also allows the organization to use data to create efficiencies, such as reducing inventory.

Freed says the initial phases of the technology transformation are about driving process improvements and increasing efficiency and productivity. But investing in the right technology will also allow the company to collect and analyze data needed to drive business opportunities, such as identifying customers who might be ready for upgrades or need maintenance services.

Freed is emphatic that building a better foundation over the past few years was critical to moving forward, to creating better customer experiences and opening new opportunities to transform the 96-year-old company.

"We're in a very competitive environment, and if we're not making investments to improve, then our competition will," he says.

Analysts, advisers and CIOs who have helped transform their organizations all concur that organizations need to have the right building blocks in place to power change. They need to be moving out of legacy; adopting newer technologies such as cloud and analytics capabilities; employing tech workers who can think creatively about business solutions; and developing a culture that moves as fast as business and is capable of taking risks via DevOps and similar organizational principles.

Many IT shops aren't there yet, analysts say.

"'Digital transformation' implies a focus on the technology itself, and I think that's where people can get hung up," says Seth Robinson, senior director for technology analysis at industry group CompTIA. "Those questions are pertinent, but it's also the ability to think beyond the technology acquisition. Part of the way you get there is ensuring you have some good technology literacy so when the new technology comes in, you have people who are asking, 'What does this mean for security and for data privacy? What does this mean to us for a new way of doing things? That thinking is the real point."

Most organizations give themselves low marks in this area. When asked about their organizations' efforts toward digital transformation, only 6% of respondents in Computerworld's Forecast survey gave themselves an A, noting that they're ahead of the curve. Some 39% gave themselves a B, for well into the process; 39% rated themselves at C, for keeping pace, despite some roadblocks; 11% listed D for the process not going well; and 5% earned an F for making no progress at all.


Myth 5: The CIO role is safe because digital transformation relies on technology.

Yes, technology drives DX. However, Deloitte found that many CIOs aren't ready for that role. Deloitte's Briggs says his firm puts CIOs in three categories: first, trusted operator, where the CIO drives a traditional efficiency play; second, business co-creator, where the CIO is more of a strategist with the business and aligns with the leadership; and third, change instigator, where the CIO is the one leading the charge. "A significant percentage of CIOs are still in that first category," he says, adding that IT leaders, however, should be aiming for the third category.


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