“It is a great time to be a CIO. IT, as a discipline, has emerged to being a business weapon. Never before has this role been as important inside businesses. You shift the thinking from being a cost center, and you are a party responsible for driving and enabling the company’s business strategy. The opportunities are endless.” – Trevor Schulze, CIO and VP of IT at Micron Technology,  

Every IT periodical publishes articles about the importance of it. Every software provider asks every IT Executive about it. Every IT Executive is expected to have one. The infamous, but not yet well understood Digital Strategy. What is it?

I was trying to recall the first time I heard the phrase – Digital Strategy. I could not remember when it was. I can remember where I was – at a CIO leadership conference. I clearly recall a lunch table of IT leaders sitting around talking about it and wondering what the hype was. Assuming we all agree that digitalization is simply the application of new technologies to automate business processes, hadn’t we always been “Digital”?   

It took me a while to get the hype, and some might say I am still tripping over myself on it.  

 I get that digital strategy has a much broader meaning and is becoming more and more of a priority to the CEO and the business in general. It is not about a new way of doing business as much as it is about how we apply technology to support the business.  

 Generally, a strategy is a plan designed to achieve business goals via the implementation of key initiatives. A digital strategy expands on the strategy to outline a plan for all the elements of a company’s digital and online suite of tools, and how they will apply them to build your business. When writing a digital strategy, it’s important to think up front about what you are trying to achieve.    

 ‘Digital” is not the end game; it is a tool used to advance the business. It includes creating a vision around how online systems will fulfill the business and external stakeholder needs. With that said, the digital strategy must be part of the business strategy.  

 Here is where I go off script from many   

 The IT strategy is an extension of the business strategy. In today’s world, these strategies must account for the digital needs of the organization. It is impossible for me to see how the strategies can be effective if built independently.  

 Most importantly, what is the CIO’s role in partnering with the CEO and other business leaders in developing the IT Strategy? Gone is the original role of the CIO to keep the lights on and the ship running. Yes, they must build and maintain solid back end core systems, but those responsibilities are table stakes.   

 With an emphasis on digital transformation, the CIO has an opportunity to advance the company’s goals by leveraging digital technologies to streamline the business and engage employees and customers.    

 It is a journey and takes focus. The journey starts with the CIO’s active participation in the development of the business strategy and the imperatives needed to deliver the digital strategy. From there, the IT Strategy is built to deliver functional business needs.   

In all sincerity, if my view is too simplistic and misses key learningsplease, shout it out. I am listening.   

 In the meantime, I am offering you my own tried and true template that I use in helping IT leaders build their strategy. Schedule time with me if you want to discuss applying it  Download your complimentary strategy building template here…. 

 Until next time, have an effective week! To further this week’s conversation, feel free to schedule time with me
and let’s talk! 

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