CIOs need to take a more prominent in business transformation because of the ability of IT to help - or hinder - changes within organisations.
When organisations have to navigate a business transformation, the IT organisation is usually in the middle of it in some way, either as a key enabler or a key constraint, said Jorge Lopez, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
"CIOs rarely have a leadership position in a change of this scale, and they need to prepare more vigorously to ensure that IT does its job to advance strategic change," Lopez said in a statement.
Gartner has identified three broad areas - context, implementation and organisational change - in which CIOs should take action and ask questions to ensure they contribute to making business transformation projects a success.
- What type of change will take place?
- Where's the change coming from?
Establishing the type of strategic change that is taking place will allow CIOs to plan ahead. Strategic change could include new business ventures, dealing with innovation, managing mergers and acquisitions or addressing competitive pressures.
Gartner advises CIOs to identify and prioritise the three most likely changes in their particular business or industry and work out where IT can play a role in successfully achieving these objectives.
The individual or part of the organisation driving the change needs to be identified by the CIO. If they're not someone the CIO normally deals with, a line of communication needs to be opened up with the individual or with their group of advisors in order to effectively deal with issues that arise.
- What factors could hinder business transformation?
- How could infrastructure be simplified to help with the transformation?
CIOs need to work out what constraints the business change is subject to and then plan how the IT department can help limit or remove these constraints.
CIOs should also work out how many applications and technology platforms operate within the organisation then map out which of these could be consolidated in order to bring about cost savings and provide benefits for the business transformation.
- What are the attitudes of staff?
- How will decisions be made?
- How will processes be affected?
- What is the mindset of the organisation?
CIOs need to work out how people feel about the changes in store as some will reject them and others welcome it. Once this has been achieved, CIOs can focus on assisting with the process by which people adopt the changes in their work environment. The individuals in the organisation who embrace the changes should then be put into roles from where they can influence future strategy.
The way in which decisions are made during the transformation will also be important for CIOs. For example, during a merger a temporary team may be set up to help with integrating the companies in question.
CIOs need to make sure the people involved with making the decisions keep them informed so they know the likely outcome and timescale and how they can contribute to their outcome.
The impact of the transformation on mission-critical processes - such as a need to design new systems or modify existing ones - need to be identified so that IT can meet the new requirements created by the business change.
The CIO needs to work out what the current cultural mindset of the organisation is and how this should change as a result of the business transformation. According to Gartner the management of this side of business transformation is what most influences the success or failure of strategic change.