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The pivotal role of CIOs in digital readiness: Three principles


Build an adaptive IT-business engagement model

Transforming the collaboration model between IT and the rest of the business is critical to any digital transformation and requires direct CIO intervention. Traditional collaboration processes are typically structured around a single point of contact, such as a business relationship manager, but this setup prevents business leaders from easily accessing the IT expertise they need. Our research at CEB shows  that 78% of business leaders want direct access to broader and deeper expertise in IT, so it’s no surprise that CIOs are looking for ways to make IT’s expertise more accessible and flexible.

The challenge is that business leaders have varying degrees of digital ambition and ability, so the IT function must flex to accommodate everyone. This dispersion has always been true, but the gap between the most and least technically savvy is now wider than ever. The best IT-business engagement models support five activities — evangelizing, consulting, brokering, coaching and delivering — and shift between them based on the demands of the specific situation.

Implementing a digital engagement model increases the number of IT staff who must collaborate directly with the rest of the business. This means that CIOs need a workforce strategy that builds universal engagement competencies and technical expertise in parallel. They should work with HR to create a digital competency model that includes business outcome orientation, creativity and the ability to collaborate with business partners, emerging vendors and startups to discover new digital value propositions. It’s also critical for IT staff to be able to navigate unstructured and matrixed environments and generate a holistic vision of how digital capabilities interact in the context of different business activities.


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