2020 will be remembered as the year the world was forced to make a radical and life-altering pivot. Change has been forced upon organisations and they’ve had to be quick to adapt. One of the major themes that has been accelerated is the adoption and use of digital technology. Whether it’s how we work, where we work, how we shop or how we spend our leisure time, digital technology is embedded in every area of our lives. The barriers to change have been taken down and acceptance of change has never been greater.
The successful execution of a digital, product and technology strategy is one of the important commercial competitive differentiators for any business. Yet we frequently hear boards and ExCos lamenting the lack of technology leadership and delivery of impactful digital transformation. Their plea is for CIOs who can deliver meaningful, commercial value through digital and data technologies. Conversely, CIOs report that the dynamic, digital role they were promised is, in fact, more operationally focused – dealing with legacy challenges. CIOs are passionate people with a real desire to effect digital change, so why, when there is clearly the will on both sides, is there still a disconnect between CIOs and their business colleagues?
Research across over 400 senior executives shows a substantial “digital divide” between the Board/CEO and the corporate functions (Technology/Digital/ Finance/HR/Marketing/Sales) in understanding the talent and skills required to enable and embed digital transformation within the UK’s largest businesses. Corporate functions were far less confident about the organisation’s progress than the Board/CEO. A significant proportion of corporate functions “strongly disagreed” that the progress required is being made.
As we speak to executives in businesses that are now restarting, an area of concern that comes up frequently is information security as a result of remote working. With the majority of workers continuing to work from home on laptops and computers there are worries over increased vulnerability to cybersecurity attacks or a significant data breach. So what three questions should you be asking your CISO that you probably aren’t? And what answers should you be expecting to hear back?
We’re all increasingly told that the new digital world turns everything on its head. That the new digital strategy says that we should look at the latest buzzwords and build business cases around why they are appropriate for deployment. History however is littered with cautionary tales of businesses that ‘bet the business’ on a certain strategy or approach, so how do you get digital transformation right?
Taking a brief from a board on a CIO/CTO/CDO role is rather like picking from a box of chocolates where you’ve lost the little card which tells you what the flavours are; you never know what you’ll get until you taste it. There are certainly some specific flavours which come through depending on the sector and size of the organisation, but as a head hunter, I can tell you that boards are full of surprises.
While digital is having a profound impact on how businesses interact with their customers, it is also having an impact on how businesses think about their internal customers: how to best engage their employees, what the workplace will look like in the future and what the employee experience will be.
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