Menu
Menu
Digital transformation must move beyond the hiring of a CDO

Digital transformation must move beyond the hiring of a CDO

Digital transformation kicks into high gear as a boardroom priority yet most leaders are unprepared, writes Ray Wang of Constellation Research.

Market leading organisations have progressively applied the seven ABC’s of digital transformation adoption
Market leading organisations have progressively applied the seven ABC’s of digital transformation adoption

Whether it’s the fact that 52 per cent of the Fortune 500 have been merged, acquired, gone bankrupt, or just fell of the list, or maybe it’s the paranoia that a small startup anywhere in the world can disrupt the established business models of existing giants, digital transformation has emerged as a top 10 priority in the global board room.

With the board applying pressure to management teams to “go digital” and “disrupt or be disrupted”, most innovative organisations have taken the first step by appointing a Chief Digital Officer. However, in conversations with over 100 organisations engaged in digital transformation, the appointment of a Chief Digital Officer alone will not resolve the overall needs to make the shift.

Success requires more than just a CDO

While the Chief Digital Officer plays a major role in identifying, orchestrating, and evangelising digital transformation, successful organisations have mobilised their leadership and driven the executive buy-in required for success. These market leading organisations have progressively applied the seven ABC’s of digital transformation adoption and:

1. Appointed a senior level executive to the post of Chief Digital Officer

2. Brought design thinking approaches to the business

3. Crafted innovation programs and launched innovation labs

4. Developed programs to bring innovation concepts to business model execution

5. Embraced a culture of digital artisans and change agents

6. Fostered partner ecosystems for co-innovation and co-creation

7. Given middle managers latitude to fail fast and learn even more quickly


Digital transformation by nature must disrupt existing business models. The inertia of doing nothing is powerful, the will to change even harder

Ray Wang, Constellation Research

Lessons learned from over 100 organisations show the power of a change agent culture

Read more: ​Coming to terms with bring your own (enterprise) apps


Digital transformation by nature must disrupt existing business models. The inertia of doing nothing is powerful, the will to change even harder. The FCC’s CIO, Dr. David Bray, often talks about the need for change agents. He’s wildly correct. At a recent client innovation summit in Dubai, market leaders shared similar lessons learned in digital transformation and innovation programs. For most of these market leading companies, success required their teams to overcome items 4 and 5 on the adoption scale.

Taking concepts to business model execution required executive leaders to pull the trigger and take risks instead of just accepting the status quo. Embracing a culture of digital artisans and change agents tested an organisation's appetite for celebrating failure and building from mistakes.

The challenge for successful organisations is disrupting their existing business. The challenge for organisations being disrupted is finding the leadership to drive the cultural challenge. Board members need to understand that results do not come overnight. More importantly, digital transformation ultimately requires the organisation’s DNA to change and they need air cover from their boards to make it happen.

R “Ray” Wang is the principal analyst, founder and chairman of Constellation Research, which focuses on disruptive technologies.

Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

Join the CIO New Zealand newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags chief digital officerConstellation Researchchange managementCDOdigital transformationdisruptionStartupsilicon valleyRay Wangdigitalboards

More about FCCWang

Show Comments