What Can CIOs Do To Improve Digital Acumen Within Their Company

Will Astbury
by Will Astbury 21 December 2015

CIO-teaches-Digital-Acumen.gifA recent analytic services report by Harvard Business review revealed that the most successful companies had CIOs that were strong leaders with an exception level of digital acumen.

I know what you’re thinking – you knew that already. Bear with me.

Interestingly the report found that the companies with these type of leaders would consistently experience healthy revenue growth between 10 and 30% year-on-year.

We all know that for a business to be prosperous it needs a strong leader. But, what does ‘digital acumen’ actually mean and why is it so important?

It is crucial for IT Leaders to learn about and be aware of digital trends and the implica­tions of those trends for their companies. They don’t have to know how the technology works, but they must make it a priority to understand its potential and how to leverage this for their business.

When CIOs instil a culture of learning about digital trends among their company’s key stakeholders and the IT team, they can expect to experience the enviable revenue growth rates I mentioned earlier.

However, instilling a culture is easier said than done. CIOs have to contend with a variety of blockers including; organisational silos, legacy processes, resistance to change, a lack of innovative thinking within the company, and a lack of digital leadership.

Here are eight initiatives that CIOs must implement to bring vital digital acumen into their companies.

  1. Establish a digital advisory group consisting of internal and outside specialists to advise the board and key stakeholders.
  2. Learn to paint a picture of the digital future, referencing competitors and companies from comparable sectors to cement your rhetoric.
  3. For your IT team, ensure that learning happens as part of work. Make sure that this learning is not confined to widely-spaced training sessions.
  4. Create a common digital language to increase understanding, communication and perspective of business activities and outcomes, not IT.
  5. Work alongside key stakeholders, especially the CEO and CMO, to identify which areas of digital knowledge and skills need to reside in within specific areas of the business, and which should reside in IT.
  6. Work with a training company to establish both formal and informal learning forums.
  7. Build learning KPIs into team members’ performance reviews.
  8. Introduce outside experts to address specific learning needs in different parts of the business.

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Topics: Digital Transformation