Digital Transformation Drives C-Suite Discord

Digital Transformation Drives C-Suite Discord

Digital Transformation Drives C-Suite Discord
via by George V. Hulme

In the sport of rowing, each crew member has to row in synchrony or the boat risks undesired turns and even potential tipping. It takes practice, communication and discipline for each crew member to raise their oar to the appropriate height and apply the appropriate power. Obviously, those crews who work best together are more likely to win.

When it comes to winning at digital transformation, the same is true for the executive crew or C-suite. However, the drive to  digitally transform enterprises rapidly puts a strain across C-suite relationships.

That’s the main takeaway from a new report published by the Financial Times Focus and business management software provider Apptio, “Disruption in the C-suite.” The report is based on a survey of 555 senior executives, about half in CxO roles and from Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the U.S.

The survey found considerable uncertainty regarding the IT department’s ability to be effective. In fact, 51% of respondents said they have concerns about IT’s ability to govern cloud adoption. And, surprisingly, less than one-fifth of companies using agile have defined performance indicators they use to track their results.

Further, 47% of leaders surveyed agreed digital transformation has blurred work responsibilities throughout the C-suite. And the same number of respondents admitted digital transformation has exacerbated strategic differences among finance and IT leaders. In fact, 71% of finance leaders said the IT function needs greater influencing skills to deliver the change their business requires.

According to the survey, while the CFO was the least deeply aligned member of the C-suite crew with the CIO, the lack of deep alignment with the CIO’s office and other C-level executives was shown to be disturbingly common. Only 56% of CEOs reported being deeply aligned with the CIO, the survey found.

There are signs of hope. Eighty-seven percent of respondents in the U.S. said digital transformation has increased collaboration across C-level executives when it came to developing new products and services.

Still, 63% of those surveyed said the IT function needs greater influencing skills to deliver the change their business requires.

That lack of influencing skills—and lack of defined metrics to measure progress—has taken its toll. About one-third of CFOs said there is a lack of consensus among CxOs when it comes to how to measure the impact of new technologies.

It’s interesting, 56% of respondents said they shift their IT strategy continuously as their technology leaders receive input from the business and customers. That’s hopefully advantageous, but with so much digital transformation discord among technology and business leaders within organizations, it’s a coin flip whether that’s good stewardship or blind steering.

It’s absolutely vital that organizations get their digital transformation efforts right, and to also be able to do so successfully at the necessary speed. As we covered in the recent story, “Digital Transformation Vital for Business Survival,” 78% of organizations believe their company’s primary industry is evolving rapidly and digital transformation is necessary to survive the changes underway.

Those businesses cited enhanced customer experience and customer relationship management, the ability to maintain competitiveness, enabling new ways of doing business, increased productivity, cost savings, increased revenue generation and enhanced product development.

Few would doubt the accuracy of that assessment, nor that the entire C-suite crew must be in synchrony, understand each other’s roles and objectives and know where the entire team is heading. Otherwise, the entire effort is likely to veer off course.

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