The route to digital business leadership

Digitally enabled business transformation is a survival issue for some and a strategic imperative for just about everyone else.

Whether disruptive technologies are viewed as a threat, an opportunity, or both, the need for digitally enabled business transformation is a survival issue for some and a strategic imperative for just about everyone else. But organizations are meeting with varying levels of success.

In this year’s Harvey Nash / KPMG 2017 CIO survey results, we recognized that there was a group of respondents who are "very effective" at using digital technologies to advance their business strategy. We have labelled these organizations "Digital Leaders".

Based on extensive analysis of the survey data we have identified these four key practices that set these "digital leaders" apart from other organizations:

  • Build on a stable and secure infrastructure
  • Invest aggressively in agile and disruptive technologies
  • Adept at aligning business and IT strategy
  • Focused on innovation and growth

But how do you become a digital leader? KPMG’s report sets out six steps that organizations can take to help close the gap, and move down the road towards digital business leadership.

The digital transformation imperative

Digital disruption is now the new normal facing almost every business across every industry.

The imperative for digital transformation is compelling organizations to innovatively deploy digital capabilities across operations: their business models and processes, value chains, products and services, and the way they engage with and serve customer.

According to the recent Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey at least one in four organizations in every industry sector, including non-profit and government, now has an enterprise-wide digital strategy.

But digital transformation is not just about creating customer-facing mobile apps and engaging on social media. Sustainable competitive advantage only comes when organizations fully integrate across the front, middle, and back offices to create a truly end-to-end digital enterprise. For its part, the IT function has a critical role to play – but in new and different ways.

Organizations that are digital leaders recognize that the demand, pace and skills needed far exceed the resources of the IT function, requiring a different operating model to be successful.

Rather than continuing in the role of captive solutions provider, IT must become a solutions broker, enabling the business to become increasingly self-sufficient in procuring solutions while ensuring that appropriate governance mechanisms are in place.

This means architecting an environment that exposes existing and new technology assets(infrastructure, applications, data) and makes them available to internal users and in some cases externally to customers and partners. The focus shifts from delivering projects to delivering platforms and capabilities.

Amongst all this, CIOs have a key role to play. They are in a unique position to collaborate with their business peers and the C-suite, educating them on digital disruption, its implications for the organization, and the business opportunities it presents. The CIO must be at the forefront of the digital transformation journey.