IT leaders have learned many valuable lessons in the past year, from how to quickly move entire organizations to remote workforces, how to create a secure work environment and which digital initiatives must be prioritized to ensure success for their organizations.
According to the 2021 Gartner Board of Directors Survey, 69% of boards responded to COVID-19 with digital business acceleration, while 60% chose to improve operational excellence through digital business. These directives come in the context of enterprises that have continued their steady progress on digital business up to now.
However, steady progress isn’t enough anymore. Boards have CIOs focused on acceleration.
“Gartner defines digital business acceleration as “execution at speed” which requires delivering digital initiatives faster, which in turn requires changing many aspects of the current digitalization approach,” said Irving Tyler, research vice president at Gartner. “To be able to step on the digital gas pedal, senior executives must ensure they and their organizations are ready.”
To contribute to the needed preparation, Gartner identified five key initiatives CIOs can lead to prepare leaders and teams for digital business acceleration.
Develop a Clear Digital Destination — Acceleration is possible only if you know your destination. If you don’t know where you want to go it is hard to plan the fastest route.
CIOs should focus on developing, refining, or expanding digital ambitions and develop digital narratives to focus the enterprise on where they want to go.
Build High Digital Dexterity — When executives have high digital dexterity, digital success is 3.3 times more likely. CIOs in organizations with low executive digital dexterity can act to elevate CxO digital dexterity by doing three things: add digital dexterity to the leadership repertoire and actively work to model digitally dexterous behaviours; flex operations such as workflows, incentives and budgets to foster, not hamper, digital dexterity; and leverage digital narrative development.
Elevate Enterprise Digital Competency — To accelerate digital business, the enterprise must have the right capabilities in place or in development. CIOs must assess and develop actions to achieve needed competencies.
Establish and Distribute Executive Responsibility and Accountability — To promote digital business acceleration, CIOs must help all CxOs become digital leaders. The start of this process is to define the needed executive responsibilities and distribute them across the C-suite intelligently. Digital business must be seen as a team sport and the C-suite has to work together to determine how to manage the critical decisions and technology processes and within all domains.
Establish a New Enterprise I&T Model — In a highly digital enterprise, the IT organization can no longer be the sole provider of information and technology delivery. CIOs must shift IT from ownership to orchestration. All C-suite leaders must be digital leaders and depending on the form and degree of digitization, many CxOs will have their own technology delivery sources/resources integrated with their existing capability teams.