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Enterprise digital transformation: How CIOs can drive business growth

Digital transformation is becoming a reality for many organizations: IDC forecasts worldwide spending on technologies and services that drive enterprise digital transformation to soar past $1 trillion in 2018. As a result, CIOs must be more mindful of overall business needs when implementing digital technologies or enhancing IT systems.

In a recent conversation with SearchCIO, Stephen Hamrick, vice president of product management at SAP Jam, explained how enterprise digital transformation is advancing the CIO role and why they should focus on aligning their technology strategy with business goals. Hamrick also shed light on the importance of adopting agile business practices to help drive enterprise digital transformation projects forward.

Editor’s note: The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

How is the CIO role evolving in regards to enterprise digital transformation?

Stephen Hamrick: As companies continue to digitally transform, one central aspect of that enterprise digital transformation is really about business agility, and that means that employees are also expected to move more quickly than ever before. In a lot of cases, they have greater access to even more data than they ever had at any time. In that respect, the role of the CIO then is really about understanding where the business wants to go. Digital transformation isn’t just simply about swapping out one system for another; it’s about how to align the technology strategy with the business strategy really well.

More than ever before, CIOs really need to be focused on their processes around aligning with business needs and identifying opportunities where IT systems enhancements can make a significant contribution to a company’s digital transformation needs.

That does mean that CIOs really have to understand how their company operates, what the key indicators for success are and how can they use technology. [When it comes to IT procurement], it’s easy enough to find people in finance and procurement that can do contract negotiation for CIOs and it’s probably better to not have the CIO directly negotiating those contracts. But if CIOs don’t play their role in being that person that helps to translate the business needs into technology strategy, then they’re really not leading the function of the CIO properly.

In fact, it can be very costly and damaging to the business if CIOs make those wrong choices. They can end up painting themselves into a corner and impeding the business’s process of digitally transforming. That’s because they are focused on getting the best procurement, best solutions, but not really aligning that solution to the business needs of the company.

Read the IDC report on enterprise digital transformation spending here.

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