Cigniti Technologies outlines CIO strategies for going digital

During the end of the last year, several leading research analysts had predicted that Digital will shape the IT World beginning 2016.

We can surely confirm that the predictions have indeed come true. Organizations have taken upon themselves the responsibility of going Digital in a way no one could have imagined. The transformation in itself has spawned entire new lines of businesses.

Today you have everything prefixed with “Digital”, bringing a sea change in the way IT leaders in organizations are approaching and organizing their businesses. Newer roles have spawned across the IT world like Chief Digital Officer (CDO), Chief Digital Transformation Officer (CDTO), and more.   More often, these folks roll up to CIO.

CIOs are responsible for bringing in innovation, agility, efficiency and provide creative solutions for the issues demanded by the fast changing landscape. Businesses expect the CIO to satisfy the demand from both the internal stakeholders who run the business and the ever demanding consumers for all the applications and software that the business uses/develops.

CIO is expected to ensure the businesses ride through the Digital Disruption Wave. CIOs in turn would depend on their trusted lieutenants (CDO, CDTO, etc) in charge of delivering, hosting and testing their software and applications landscape. The software development lifecycle has also transformed from the staid “Waterfall” to the new age “Agile / DevOps” model that ensures that releases are faster, quicker and with higher quality, realizing the mantra of “Quality@Speed”. Digital assurance plays an important role in ensuring the quality @ speed. CIO’s role has also now extended into protecting the brand for what it stands.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation is not just adding “dot com” to your business, and going online. In an Enterprise, it is all about applying innovation in optimizing processes, technologies, designs & data science to deliver products/solutions with customized experience. It would be safe to assume that Digital Transformation would entail a journey that helps optimize how things work.  The major domains that are seeing their businesses adopting Digital Transformation are in the retail, travel, healthcare, banking and financial services sectors.

While CIOs focus on the customer facing Digital transformation, they should also look at the backend processes and platforms which were built on legacy technologies which encompass complex business processes and transactions. It is very easy to get overwhelmed with all the tools and technologies out there, but the overall strategy is to change fast and adapt your organization to the digital era. A lot of organizations have become irrelevant or disappear (Kodak, Blockbuster, etc), by ignoring the change that is happening around them. Big Data, Cloud, DevOps, IOT, Mobile are here to stay.

Digital technology is a part and parcel of every aspect of doing business. Organizations that have recognized this fact have been first off the blocks to act against newer competition. Some of them have succeeded while others have seen their bottom lines take a hit due to some upstart competition. Digital transformation entails substantial investment in technology. Some of the CIOs have also gone ahead and set up Digital Centers of Excellence to drive the strategy.

Strategies for Digital Transformation

Build Consensus and Build it fast: While creating the Digital Transformation strategy the CIO will have to take an approach of building consensus and therefore taking all the stakeholders into confidence would stand the CIO in good stead. The CIO should advocate digital transformation and the advantages for an enhanced customer experience at an executive level. Since time and speed of execution is of essence, building consensus fast is the key to success. He needs to set the ball rolling from day one as the business will have to either transform or perish under the digital disruption.

Leadership: The CIOs are in a position to take a new leadership role to drive change in the business by approaching digital transformation with innovation and creativity. He needs to be convinced of his vision and have the confidence of taking the initiative to its logical conclusion. He also needs to constantly communicate with the stakeholders if there are any changes during the transformation journey. Research analyst data shows that around 70 percent initiatives fail due to the lack of engagement and leadership from the role driving the initiative. The CIO needs to show active engagement and have a strong governance framework in place to drive the same.

Prototyping approach: The CIO needs to be willing to take the risks. Any new implementation or change in functionality should be tried out in the digital transformation paradigm and feedback should be solicited. The approach should be to build small, seek feedback and iterate in an agile manner.

Outsource: The organization can always work with companies that complement their business needs and objectives. The CIO can seek help from smaller organizations which are at the forefront of the digital revolution and can bring in innovation. These companies will be abreast with the external trends and willingly adapt them into their organizational culture. Partnering with external vendors can save time and is also economical in the long run.

Adopt and adapt: The CIO needs to identify the tenets of the digital transformation. To transform itself, the CIO needs to evaluate his needs and check the adoption of technologies like mobile, social, cloud, big data, Internet of things, open source, data analytics, APIs etc. The digital strategy needs to be clear in what changes are required to transform the old IT model while continuing to deliver services. In addition to ensuring excellent customer experience, the CIO should not lose sight of the core IT services at the back-end.

Role of Digital Assurance

Digital Assurance plays a pivotal role in helping the CIO ensure successful transformation. Digital Assurance is at the forefront of testing the functionality, availability, usability, accessibility, performance and security of all the software and applications under the CIO’s purview. The CIO’s reliance on the assurance is multiplied by the ability of the assurance provider to test the applications across the entire gamut of platforms, devices and operating systems.

With omni-channel experience becoming more of a norm rather than an exception, verifying the functionality, user experience and performance across platforms is both critical and crucial. The Digital Transformation that is happening at warp speed has also fueled another trend of transforming the way quality is assured. The transition of testing companies from a quality assurance mode to a quality engineering mentality is complete and permanent. In the quality engineering world, automation and virtualization at every stage is the key to solve the speed conundrum. Quality @ Speed is no more a wish, it is a demand of the Digital CIO.  As said by Salesforce CEO recently, speed is the new currency.

Digital Assurance will involve end-to-end testing of the entire eco-system right from the front end of an app on your mobile screen to the latest version of the browser on your laptop or desktop. Usage of tools and accelerators in the form of IP can be a competitive differentiator. The solutions provided need to ensure comprehensive testing. Some of the techniques employed are A/B Testing, Service Virtualization, usage of Web Analytics, Test automation across the value chain and also ensuring the performance across all the delivery channels. One of the other important aspects is ensuring the security of the applications against hacking which is very common in the social media.

By Amit Vyas, senior director, Enterprise Solutions Group (ESG) at Cigniti Technologies

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