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How CIOs and CEOs Can Drive the Digital Transformation

digital transformation

In his years of acting as a Transformational CIO/CDO & Board IT Advisor, Wayne Sadin has seen many companies struggling with 10-year-old technology and 25-year-old ideas. For their entire careers, IT leaders have held the belief that “change makes errors” and, therefore, have not modernized.

While many IT leaders are opposed to change, they are not the only ones at fault for stalled digital transformation efforts. The company’s leadership, from the c-suite to board members, have also failed to prioritize digital transformation initiatives.

Digital Transformation Begins with the CEO

Google Trends shows that everyone’s favorite buzzword — digital transformation — first started trending in late 2015. Three years later, the trend continues. Digital transformation is on the mind of many business leaders.

Because many CEOs gained their business experience years ago, before technology was as vital and complex as it has become, too often, Wayne sees that CEOs are intimidated by complexity, by jargon, and by the ‘geek-speak’ that peppers CIO conversations. If the intimidation results in poor relationships between these leaders, companies can struggle to advance.

Therefore, CEOs and CIOs must build open communication through respect for the other’s expertise. While the CEO will know what business goals must be accomplished, the CIO will know how technology can help the company meet those goals.

While CIOs have the technical know-how, CEOs are at the heart of digital transformation efforts because a digital transformation requires a company-wide culture shift. From board members to employees, the CEO must be able to “sell” tech innovation initiatives and investments to bring about the necessary change.

Empower Employees to Source Digital Solutions

In many companies, tech innovation has become bottoms-up, rather than top-down. As a result, business units have expensed software-as-a-service (SaaS) and other cloud-based applications rather than pursuing a lengthy adoption process with IT. In fact, over 50% of SaaS spend lives outside of known expense types.

Wayne says the resulting shadow IT inherently carries a host of problems:

  • Stranded data
  • Difficult interfaces
  • Poor customer experience
  • Unnecessary security exposure
  • Redundant applications
  • Technical debt

Each problem brought on by shadow IT hampers the success of the employees, departments, and the company. Therefore, while the CIO will be most equipped to uncover shadow IT and mitigate the inherent risks, poor technology practices inevitably ladder up to the CEO.

Therefore, the CEO and CIO must also align with business leaders to ensure that employees are following best practices when purchasing, adopting, and utilizing SaaS applications. Often leaders enforce these best practices through the support of corporate learning strategies, management systems, and well-established goals and expectations.

Unlock Full Visibility to Reach Strategic Transformation

According to Gartner, SaaS continues to grow with revenue expected to increase by 18% in 2022. However, as mentioned before, in the average company, over 50% of SaaS spend lives outside of known expense types. In short, over 50% of SaaS revenue growth is the result of shadow IT.

A SaaS system of record is a company’s first line of defense against the problems caused by shadow IT. This record will help IT measure the impact of tech across the company, especially the SaaS subscriptions bought by business units.

Additionally, a SaaS system of record can help leadership identify what departments strongly adopt best practices for SaaS purchase and use. This full visibility into each department’s SaaS use also enables IT to wrap metrics around digital transformation initiatives at a macro and micro scale.

Full visibility further advances digital transformation efforts:

  • Eliminating the Unknown. Discover all shadow IT bought throughout the enterprise to secure the enterprise, mitigate tech waste, and drive enterprise-wide initiatives.
  • Assigning Ownership. With cost center reporting, IT can show what SaaS applications each department is purchasing to drive best practices at the source: the SaaS buyer.
  • Determining KPIs. Wrap metrics around each cloud-based investment to assign goals and drive value.

As digital transformation efforts continue, relationships between CIOs and CEOs will continue to evolve. However, visibility, communication, and alignment will ensure that C-level executives across the business effectively use technology to meet business goals today and into the future.