While CEOs push their visions for digital transformation, it's up to the CIO to champion a strategy that enables the business to pull it off. Being able to think strategically about the business, having a strong customer focus, and having the chops to influence people across the organization are all key to ensuring a CIO's digital business success.
"Information technology needs to be an accelerator to the business, not a drag," says Stephen Gold, CIO and executive vice president of business and technology operations at CVS Health. "The CIO is no longer just a chief information officer -- you need to be a chief innovation officer and a chief integration officer as well."
Given what's at stake and the technical complexities of digital business, CIOs also need to be translators who can help business people understand technology and, specifically, what can and can't be done. "This stuff isn't easy, and sometimes there's risk," says Kevin Vasconi, executive vice president and CIO at Domino's. "Most of the business doesn't understand the machinations of technology and how the gears turn. My biggest role is helping them understand the trade-offs -- that role is invaluable in terms of driving digital transformation."
AT&T DirecTV goes agile
Few industries are as under the gun for digital transformation as the pay-TV sector. Heightened competition, the constant tick of consumer demand for the latest and greatest mobile and streaming capabilities, and the rapid-fire pace of technology change present huge challenges for companies that are unequipped to turn on a dime.
For DirecTV, the fact that something had to give was readily apparent a year into an initiative to completely transform its digital entertainment experience with a responsive website, according to Gonzalez. The undertaking, whose goal was to eliminate the heavy maintenance and high costs associated with supporting multiple code bases for myriad mobile devices, was well underway when the team ran into problems, having to consistently redo functionality because of bugs or because it didn't quite map to the demands of the business.
Given the velocity of change in the TV market, the group had taken an agile approach to the development effort but it soon realized a key ingredient was missing. "We weren't doing agile agile," says Gonzalez. "We were doing sprints, we were doing scrums, we were doing stories, but we weren't having our internal business customers with us along the way. We had to take a step back and think about things differently, including how to work differently."
The changes they subsequently made to the website redesign project included embedding the various stakeholders -- the development organization, the quality team, the customer care unit and offshore development partners -- into the process to create a global agile delivery system, says Doug Wells, senior director of product development, noting that the company also set up a unit called the Agile Center of Excellence.
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