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Transitioning from CIO to CDO

By Bruce Coller, CIO, Sir Moses Montefiore Jewish Home

Transitioning from CIO to CDO

Bruce Coller, CIO, Sir Moses Montefiore Jewish Home

Chief Information Officers are facing extinction. What is driving this and what does digital leadership look like as we follow the digital services revolution?

Applications, servers, storage, database, switches, personal computer, telephone PABX, desktop tool suite, backup, UPS, Telco WAN providers, local precinct, firewall, printer, antivirus, extensive training, support; these are familiar terms and focuses for many CIOs. Technology has been the driver as Information Technology (IT) has been pushed to the end user, heavily asset oriented, dependent on extensive training, and required compromise when meeting needs due to its limitations. IT departments are perceived as geek havens and expense centres that the organization must have in order to manage the complex computer systems for information management. They are now the domain of archaic technology based leadership.

IT must transform to reflect the digital economy revolution. Companies rarely die from moving too fast, they frequently die from moving too slowly.

"The CDO ensures organizational success through digital business capability and performance with exceptional client experience"

Cloud ‘As a Service’ negates concerns of brand or capacity of server, storage, backup, UPS, PABX, server operating system and indeed most back of house hardware and software requirements. Compute is highly available and elastic ensuring only active services are paid for but can be spun up rapidly to match changing loads, development, test requirements or advanced analytics. Personal Computers (PC) will disappear as mobility, browser or App enabled user devices change the face of data and automation.

Applications operating as silos, typical of many organisations, require manual integration processes and data to be entered multiple times. These silos must morph into homogeneous suites capable of delivering functional requirements with single source of truth and without the need for duplicated data entry. 

Leading organisations are now developing a digital service culture. Digital services deliver simplicity through a service microcosm to meet organizational requirements. Cloud computing introduced the concept of ‘As a Service’ but this is only part of the digital services concept. Digital leadership demotes technology to the background, using it as an enabler rather than a driver when establishing business requirements. Services strategy is device agnostic and revolves around end user needs whilst realizing sustainability, competitive advantage and customer experience. The digital economy creates value via a service culture realized by an orchestration of mobility, availability, security, automation and advanced analytics.

Gone are the days when the customer was difficult to reach and paper based communications were an expensive channel. Social media is mature; organisations must look at the online community to see a picture of how business should be acting.

Huge disruption is already attributed to the digital economy as it permeates every aspect of the global economy. Disruption is for the unprepared, leadership and opportunity is realized by the attacking visionary generating an organizational digital DNA.  Ingrained digital DNA overrules attitudes such as “we’ve always done it that way” and results in innovation, capacity, capability and a positive customer experience.

Vision, or understanding the big picture, is the first characteristic of digital services leadership. It knows the answers to the questions such as:

  • How can data and automation make an organization a preferred provider?
  • How can data and automation eliminate reliance on capital?
  • How can data and automation double employee productivity?
  • How can data and automation embrace an Uber model?
  • How can the incremental cost of growth approach zero?
  • How does automation rebuild industry decimated by skyrocketing wages?

Connectivity is fuelling the digital revolution; mobility is the enabler. A ‘mobile first’ model is prevalent today with many people expecting to use smartphone’s or tablets, only moving to desktop devices as necessary.  The vision must be ‘mobile only’ where almost all computing and communications is with a mobile device.

Business Intelligence and Big Data have not yet realized their potential value.  2016 will see a major shift toward the delivery of statistically sound, self-serviced, Digital Intelligence for fast, simple and sophisticated decision-making.  Digital Intelligence will signal not only what could be done but what should be done!  Digital Intelligence, incorporating advanced analytics and machine learning, represents a significant divergence from traditional business models and failure to embrace it will challenge sustainability.

Security Intelligence recognizes that 100% prevention of attacks will not be possible as cyber crime embraces advanced analytics and machine learning.  Organisations must have prevention, detection, resilience and response as principal strategies.

Innovation is often considered a driver, with staff consciously trying to be innovative from the outset.  Digital services focus on vision, expertise and good business practices that typically result in innovative outcomes; an outcome of good practice and not a driver.

The digital services leader, required now, is referred to as the Chief Digital Officer (CDO).  The CDO is a technology guru but utilizes executive business skills every day, entrusting enabling technological solutions to deliver sector leading services to the digital services team.  Business analysis and project management are crucial components of the digital services team.

The CDO will ensure organizational success through digital business capability and performance with exceptional client experience. This is summarized by:



Services (digital) delivering value from data


Success markers are:

  • Exceptional experience to client (services) and user (easy, enabling and stress free)
  • Competitive advantage and sustainability (organizational capacity and performance)
  • Easy, Anywhere, Anytime, Any Device
  • Broadening digital organization vision

CDO success must be measurable. Qualitative and quantitative measures are crucial to success.

In summary the CIO must evolve into a digital leader, CDO, that is a technology guru and one that brings solid business acumen to the table and focuses on a services delivery vision and strategy.