Transforming the IT department to get to digital-Part 2

January 16th, 2017

Topics: Enterprise IT

In Part 1 of my blog on Transforming the IT department to digital, I talked about What needs to be done.  However, it’s not just doing the right thing, but How you do them that assures success.


Part 2: the How

Have you ever developed a plan just to have it sit on the shelf, never to be referred to again?   That could be because you did not cultivate buy-in as you developed the plan.

5 Keys to a successful digital transformation – How to do it

  1. Get out there and do this yourself. Accomplishing a major transformation to the digital world is one activity where I would not recommend having a consultant lead.   You must get out there and lead it yourself.   If you use outside consultants at all, that should be restricted to possibly doing external research for you and coaching you on what to do and what to expect.  You and your staff should be out there meeting with your business partners.
  2. Focus on business value. The good news is everyone wants more IT applications and data.   Conflict and frustration can arise when some business partners feel they will not be getting all the IT systems they want.    They feel left out, and start criticizing IT and the plan.   I always talk about business value.   We’re not doing digital projects just to be doing digital.   The projects with the largest business value should be done first.   What’s business value?   Increased revenue, reduced costs, reduced cycle time in an important process, or brand enhancement?   Projects with lower business value need to wait.   There is always next year.  Keep telling people that just because a project did not make it on this year’s project list, does not mean it’ll never get done.   It just did not make the priority list this year.   But focus on business value: If it has a strong enough business case, it could make it next year.
  3. Get your staff involved. It’s not just you listening to what different parts of the business are asking for, your staff should talk to key functional experts on their level to learn more about the business, to forge close connections with the other departments.   I’m consistently surprised at the great ideas that come from those interactions.
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate what you’re doing. And why, and what you expect the outcome to be.
  5. It does not help to criticize the past. Past decisions were based on past information and past circumstances, and were probably good decisions at the time.   Revisiting the past unduly blames some of the IT and business people who are key to your success going forward. 

Don Castle, Executive Fellow at the Center for Digital Strategies, is a partner in the consulting firm New Madison Ave, where he specializes in advising CEO’s and boards of directors on opportunities and risks presented by Digital Technologies, and in helping chief marketing officers to use data to enhance brand strength and revenue.
Previously, Don held CIO positions at Johnson & Johnson, first for Ethicon, Inc. a manufacturer of surgical devices, then as Group CIO for J&J’s six global medical device companies.  He also was CIO, then President of the Life Science Services at SGS North America, and CIO for Nabisco International.

Don has run one business-to-business startup, and served as advisor to another startup in Healthcare IT. He serves on the board of the nonprofit Inroads NY/NJ.  Don has a bachelor degree from Dartmouth, and an MBA from The Tuck School.

Follow Don on Twitter @dwcastle

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