A key roadblock preventing CIOs from effectively engaging the rest of the business on new digital initiatives could be the lack of a digital culture in the organization. Implementing new technologies involves behavioral changes and mindset shifts, particularly for technologies that require the workforce to connect, collaborate and learn in new ways. The need to quickly shift to telecommuting during the COVID-19 pandemic proves that such a change demands as much from IT enablement as it does from a people management perspective.
With the rapid shift to online business models, organizations will also need a workforce that is not only adaptive, but also innovative, in initiating new digital initiatives from the ground up. Such a digital-first culture will help businesses to accelerate their transition from offline to online channels, from physical to virtual events, from iterations of existing products to conceptualizing new online services and products.
Building a digital organization starts with putting humans at the center. How can we be more inclusive and people-centric to make technologies friendlier, more accessible and useful to employees? Inputs from the CHRO and HR function will be valuable: they can identify employee personas and engagement preferences, as well as highlight moments in employees’ experience life cycle to help CIOs embed talent considerations into the way technologies are designed and deployed for use. At the same time, CIOs can collaborate with CHROs to enable the workforce to learn new skills that build a more digital-ready workforce.
An evolved set of leadership capabilities
Clearly, to drive technology transformation that requires cultural changes beyond IT implementation, CIOs will need to evolve their leadership capabilities.
Firstly, CIOs will need business acumen, authenticity, customer-centricity and a results-oriented perspective as a foundational set of skills. In time, they will need to evolve these skills from building relationships internally with stakeholders to externally across the network, from learning to ideating, and from managing change to pioneering disruption. Secondly, they will need to cultivate empathy to preempt the impact of technological advancements on the workforce, as well as resilience to make tough but necessary decisions. These capabilities are critical for CIOs to be able to think outside the box to ideate, innovate and reimagine the business using technology as a strategic enabler.
The reality is that with the fast-evolving business and technology environments, there will always be proficiency gaps. CIOs will require the support of a multidisciplinary team that offers a mix of non-technology related skills as well as subject matter experts in new emerging technologies. At the same