This content is part of the Conference Coverage: MIT CIO 2018 videos: Honing a digital leadership strategy
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Digital transformation project: What makes it difficult?

To orchestrate a successful digital transformation project, accountable leadership and starting small are keys to success. That's according to Naufal Khan, senior partner at McKinsey & Company. In an interview at the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, Khan discussed the factors that make digital transformation projects difficult to implement.

In this video, he explains why the business should be engaged in the company's digital transformation project and why it is important to define the digital part of the equation when planning these projects.

Editor's note: The following transcript has been edited for clarity and content.

What makes implementing a digital transformation project difficult?

Naufal Khan: First of all, I think it's just the lack of a clear accountability at the leadership level. Either the CIO or the CDO [chief digital officer] becomes the leader of it, and the business is not always getting that joint accountability and actually doing the digital transformation, when they are the ones that are being affected the most.

You have to have more joint accountability, just like you used to have with IT initiatives. That's one thing: clear, accountable leadership and joint accountability.

You have to have more joint accountability, just like you used to have with IT initiatives.
Naufal Khansenior partner at McKinsey & Company

The second part of that -- and another big element -- is actually defining 'digital' the right way. Like I said, often, it ends up being the e-commerce or mobile elements.

And the last thing is, everybody thinks really big and it's great to think big, but you have to start small. Think about, what are the five to 10 really important use cases that you can start with? Perhaps a couple of use cases in finance, perhaps a couple of use cases in HR. Can I actually try these different things out and build on those, rather than thinking either very narrowly on e-commerce or having a big vision, but then struggling how to enter the problem?

You mentioned defining 'digital the right way.' How do you do that? 

Khan: The way we think about it: It includes all the elements from innovation, IoT, automation, advanced analytics and how you use data. It is not just the mobile app or the website. It also is not just the chief digital officer's organization that does it. It's also not just something that IT does. It cuts across the business, and it cuts across all the different organizational areas -- from ops to support units -- and it employs a whole bunch of these technologies.

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