In Transformation, Everyone is a Decision Maker

March 3, 2022

Published by: Jim Staats

“It takes a village.”

A dated reference, to be sure, but in today’s digital economy, the theme remains super relevant.

In the race for every organization to embrace and achieve a digital transformation to position it for long lasting growth and stability, there’s more than one stop for that virtual ‘buck.’ Everyone in the C-suite - and those outside it (more on that later) - become valued decision-makers to help make sure that uber-important project goes right.

And, let’s be clear, these changes toward digital are long overdue for many, and being nudged along significantly by recent world events. As seemingly far away as mid 2020, feedback from a survey of CEOs jointly conducted by Fortune magazine and Deloitte revealed 77% of the respondents are accelerating digital transformation plans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, those folks in the head chair aren’t making such decisions on their own. If your company is big and mature enough to devote roles not just to a CEO, but CFO, CIO, CTO, CRO and more, the folks inhabiting each of those roles will have a say in the matter.

The C-Sweet Spot

Amid that alphabet soup, what are the qualities that make for a good leadership team, tasked with overseeing these digital transformations?

The Harvard Business Review sought to answer that question by analyzing search specifications (between 2016 and 2020) for C-suite positions in Fortune 1000 companies across a variety of industries, and found the following interesting high-level observations:

  • The search for tech and digital experience was well on the rise prior to the pandemic
  • Such skills were sought for a variety of roles, and not limited just to CIO, CTO and CMO.
  • The need for these transformation efforts has created an evolution in many of these leadership roles and a general expansion of duties across all C-suite roles

CTO - The Chief Technology Officer, no longer just the resident expert in new technologies, is now being called upon not just to lead company-wide digital transformation efforts, but to cheerlead these technical migrations as well.

With an increased reliance on technology for businesses big and small today, the need for this executive-level role, as well as a Chief Information Officer (CIO), but often the distinction could be a bit blurred.

CIO - While the CTO may be more outward looking and innovation focused, the CIO can concentrate on the internal processes to ensure long term stability and efficiency. Though the person in this role can’t be expected to have expert knowledge of each of these systems, a key skill for success is the ability to communicate needs and strategies with other executives and department managers.

CEO - While the company’s top dog is tasked with directing company strategy and establishing the strategy and vision, today these folks are being asked to do so across a landscape changing in the blink of an eye. Business targets and goals must be able to accommodate such change, even more so in the case of such large-scale digital transformation efforts touching every corner of the organization.

CFO - Beyond the traditional responsibility realm of financial forecasting, budgeting and reporting, the truly successful people in this role are being asked to leverage new technologies to better automate and streamline financial reporting processes and analysis.

CRO - While an organization’s Chief Revenue Officer may, on the outside, appear to have nose to the grindstone on sales and everything that goes into driving that effort, the deeper responsibilities include ensuring no departments within that organization work in a silos so more informed decisions about strategic processes - including large-scale digital transformation - can be made.

We’ve discussed before the need for the people inhabiting some of these roles to be team players in order to successfully achieve a common goal, in this case an accomplished digital transformation. Heck, we’ve even coined our own role. But, the decision making duties cannot reside on that floor alone.

Beyond the Suites

Executives are recognizing that successful digital transformation efforts should not just prioritize the new technologies alone, but another key piece of the puzzle.

According to a recent KPMG CEO Outlook report, the companies able to achieve a successful digital transformation are the ones properly harnessing the power of both technology and people. Survey results indicate CEOs are recognizing the correlation between developing talent and achieving corporate growth.

  • 60 % of CEOs are placing more capital investment in buying new technology, down from 67% the year prior
  • While 40 % of CEOs are placing more capital investment in ‘developing our workforce’s skills and capabilities,’ a bump from 33 % the previous year

This Indicates a narrowing of the tech and workforce gap recognition among those in the executive offices. At its core, digital transformation is not just the increased use of modern technology, but an overall improvement in the experience and efficiency of the people putting this modern technology to work.

If these past couple pandemic years have taught us anything - and, heck, they have, c’mon - the enforced, increased reliance on digital methods to just get through our daily lives means everyone - businesses, customers, employees and every kind of stakeholder - has a much higher expectation for technology, and that won’t change anytime soon.

This extends to every organizational digital transformation. The executives in charge of these efforts recognize that, which is why it truly takes a village to pull off one that’s successful.

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