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The CIO's role in IT's digital transformation journey

When it comes to digital transformation, changes in culture and processes go hand in hand with the adoption of new technologies, according to Matt Griffiths, vice president and CIO at Stanley Black & Decker Industrial. Griffiths spoke with SearchCIO at the recent CDM Media CIO Summit in Boston, where he explained how the CIO should help drive a company's digital transformation journey. In this video, Griffiths discusses the mistakes CIOs should avoid during this digital transformation and why creating an IT culture of 'yes' is so important to implement the necessary changes to IT. He also sheds light on how digital transformation creates new pressure for IT and the potential pitfalls of creating a chief digital officer role.

How would you define digital transformation?
 
Matt Griffiths: Digital transformation encompasses three different areas. The most obvious one is around the technology transformation -- the cloud, internet of things, big data, analytics and machine learning. These are the things that you typically hear about, read about, and that are really obvious when you think about digital transformation.

The CIO really is defining the North Star and the vision for the organization, and then compelling the organization -- not just the IT team but the company as a whole -- toward that vision.

What's not so obvious is the process and cultural change that occurs within an organization. There's a new expectation and a new set of behaviors from employees as they embrace technology in the workplace. That's driving a lot of pressure and opposing forces on an IT organization, which means that we as an IT organization need to change our processes to be more adaptive, more collaborative, more deeply entrenched and engrained in the business to help make sure that the technologies are being leveraged in the right way to drive business strategy and value and outcomes for the company.
 
What role does a CIO play in their organization's digital transformation journey? 
 
Griffiths: The CIO role in digital transformation is really very complex, first of all, and it is really trying to balance all of the different kind of behavioral, cultural, process and technology expectations that organizations now have. On one hand, it's being an evangelist to advocate and to help identify new opportunities for digital transformation and digital capabilities within an organization. On the other hand, it's making sure that the IT organization itself is changing and reacting to all of those changing behaviors, that we have a culture in the organization that starts with 'yes,' and that we have the processes in place that allow the new clock speed of IT to support all of that rapid and incremental changes on a daily basis. The CIO really is defining the North Star and the vision for the organization, and then compelling the organization -- not just the IT team but the company as a whole -- toward that vision.

What mistakes should CIOs avoid on their digital transformation journey?

Griffiths: I think the biggest one is thinking it is someone else's responsibility to drive digital innovation in the company. I think many organizations have evolved to create a digital void that exists between what the business leadership and the CEO aspires to be from a digital perspective, and the CIO that thinks their role is internally focused and about running the infrastructure today.

The danger of that mindset is that someone else gets put in place and that someone else is typically called a chief digital officer. It's a phenomenon that we're seeing across the industry and that role is bridging the gap between the business and IT. That then leads to duplication and overlap, which in turn leads to confrontation and a lot of head butting and tension that exists between organizations. It can be a significant downward spiral from that point if it's not controlled and managed in a very constructive way.

We are technology professionals, we spend our entire lives in technology, we know this stuff better than anyone in the organization, Step up, step forward, and lead the way.

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