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How CIOs can keep stalled digital transformation projects moving forward


Any large-scale organizational change initiative will face opposition and CIOs must realize that successful digital transformation requires non-technical skills as well, explains Ranjith Kaippada, Managing Director at Cloud Box Technologies.

“CIOs need to be flexible in identifying and realigning with multiple funding opportunities that may exist across the organization.” 

Ranjith Kaippada, Managing Director at Cloud Box Technologies.

The global pandemic brought businesses and industries to the brink of collapse and drove digital transformation into the spotlight as a necessary saviour. And while organizations are to be applauded for taking the first necessary steps, most face challenges, which may stem from non-technical reasons as well.

The results generated from global research have concluded that digital transformation initiatives may stall from a myriad of non-technical reasons. CIOs need to be aware of the multiple non-technical reasons that can ground digital transformation initiatives, often for no fault of theirs, and plan to find ways to work around the points of failure described below.

Limited funding

Many finance heads continue to look at technology and IT spending as an operational expense rather than one driving innovation and longer-term strategic benefit. Hence, when a digital transformation initiative is proposed it may be hard for the CIO to gather the total funding to complete the project.

Inability to gather sufficient funds to drive a digital transformation project also arises when financial decision making is siloed and fails to see and apportion the benefits of digital transformation across the organization. With such an approach, it may be difficult to justify sufficient funds and may require alternative routes for results.

The way forward is to justify expenditure for digital transformation with the business outcomes delivered. Many times, budgets are available with business heads and may require realignment and reprioritization of the digital transformation initiative, along the business objectives related to that funding.

Delivery of timely business results and delivery of political benefits if well-articulated, can also help to trigger sufficient levels of investment to mobilize the digital transformation initiative. Finally, CIOs need to be flexible in identifying and realigning with multiple funding opportunities that may exist across the organization. 

Breadth of skills

The successful roll out of digital transformation initiatives requires having multiple types of digital skill sets across the organization. Some of these core skill sets include cloud migration and orchestration, digital architecture and platforms, data analytics, user experience and design, amongst others. Other than technical skills, teams also need to prepare themselves to become agile and flexible, often referred to as digital nimbleness.

The way forward is to build multiple types of digital training programs across the organization. In addition to training employees with digital skills along their functional job roles, they can also be offered digital skills training outside their functional roles. This will help them to understand the multifunctional and cross siloed approach of digital transformation.

Another important initiative is to build skills in business areas that are the most impacted by digital transformation. Since digital transformation impacts existing job roles and helps to create new ones, communicating new career paths and skills progression based on experience, are another important part of the internal initiatives.

Technology resources

Post pandemic, all industries, and all organizations, have experienced an increase in the usage of digital technologies. On the flip side, shortage of IT and technology talent can dampen the enthusiasm of most digital transformation initiatives. The reasons for shortage of technology and business subject matter experts in an organization can range from cultural to siloed thinking of the management.

A short-term approach of building skilled resources in low code type of digital transformation solutions can only go so far. The real benefits for an organization are gained by developing the complete gamut of skills required to manage digital transformation initiatives of any complexity and scope.

The way forward is to build a continuous program of developing digital skills and culture across the organization that helps in positive roll out of a digital transformation initiative. Such a continuous program of skills development and enhancement requires management support and a medium to long term vision for improvement and transformation.

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