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Your top five priorities this year: Forrester

Your top five priorities this year: ForresterMany CIOs have not embraced the shift to digital business with the traditional tech-focused role now under threat from chief data officers (CDOs) or CTOs with digital and customer experience expertise.

This is the view of Forrester Research’s Tim Sheedy who recently published a report listing the top five priorities CIOs need to embrace in 2017. He said many CIOs are ‘passengers’ who are farming out transformation activities to CDOs or ‘mode 2’ tech leaders. These CIOs are merely managing traditional IT, an area with shrinking business relevance and budget that is being pushed to the cloud and commodity platforms.

To drive and sustain a customer-obsessed operating model, Sheedy suggested CIOs do the following five things:

Understand your current digital maturity to formulate a clear strategy

Too many c-level execs are jumping into their digital journey without a clear plan or realistic understanding of their current capabilities, said Sheedy.

“Your digital transformation will affect culture, organization, metrics, and technology. Understand your current maturity and develop a custom capability map to drive the needed changes–which may not be the low-hanging fruit that many CIOs look to start with,” he said.

“Target the wrong metrics and you’ll fail to secure employee support; implement the wrong organizational structure and you’ll lack the ability to execute. As CIO, you need to lead these changes with your own tech management team and drive the changes in technology itself,” he said.

Create or help drive your company’s digital business strategy

The best digital strategies focus on creating customer value through technology but most begin with a standalone digital initiative driven by technology-led projects.

“One state government department we interviewed is in the process of creating a digital strategy but is stuck between creating something strategic that defines how the business wants to serve customers in 2020 and a laundry list of technology projects,” Sheedy said.

“These projects–including ‘refresh the web site’, 'invest in more private cloud’, and ‘implement a better collaboration platform’–would have happened with or without a digital strategy. Successful CIOs must develop a strategy, not a roadmap.”

Become the driving force behind digital operational excellence

Several Australian organizations, particularly retail banks, are good at driving digital customer experiences (DCX) with innovations like cardless payments, credit card locking, mobile account apps, and high scoring mobile apps, said Sheedy.

“This strategy makes sense if customers are crying out for mobile banking and other mobile or digital services but delivering great DCX also often highlights just how ‘non-digital’ the rest of your business is.”

Sheedy said CIOs need to help the business drive what he refers to as digital operational excellence (DOX) to create a good customer experience.