The transformational CIO: delivering change gives a sense of purpose

Ken MartinKenneth Martin, Leader of the Global Executive Office for Purpose-Led Transformation at EY, analyzes the role of the CIO in organizational transformation.

As a CIO, do you see yourself as an outstanding manager or a company leader? These two attributes are distinct. Effective management is a critical and much-valued discipline. However, CIOs are increasingly playing a leadership role in enterprise-wide transformation.

CIOs and their C-suite colleagues are confronted with an increasingly challenging environment, shaped by significant economic, technological, social and political megatrends that range from accelerated urbanization to new digital technologies.

Success in this environment requires more than effective management or piecemeal change. Organizations need to deliver a fundamental transformation. Unfortunately, transformation efforts face a significant chance of failure, with only 30% estimated to achieve success. At EY, we believe that viewing transformation through a spectrum lense — comprising six distinct aspects – is key to improving the chances of success:

EY’s Transformation Spectrum TM
EY’s Transformation Spectrum ™

Organizations should identify and articulate their transformation objectives using these six lenses of transformation. Companies can start anywhere on the spectrum, but need to use that chosen starting position as the guidepost to align the other lenses in order to transform effectively. CIOs play a key role in all six areas.

Take the business model as an example. CIOs play a critical role in leveraging new digital technologies, from social media channels to the Internet of Things, to create new value propositions and transform the business model. They also have a key role to play at the purpose-led end of the spectrum, which concerns the core identity of the organization — quite simply, why it exists.

Purpose: from burning platform to burning ambition

Successful transformation in large, complex organizations requires the deep engagement of the business and its people. This is why an organization’s character — its sense of purpose — is such an important part of the spectrum. When an organization leads with purpose, it has an ambition for something better. This means that it transforms not out of fear (a burning platform) but out of desire (a burning ambition).

This approach translates aspiration into strategic transformation and plays a critical role in uniting the leadership team behind a common vision. Large transformation efforts frequently fail if the senior team is not aligned behind the vision and purpose of the proposed change, and it can create a range of problems, from ambiguity about direction and accountability to lack of effective communication. CIOs can profit from using purpose-led transformation to deliver IT-led change programs that create long-term, sustainable value.

Technology leadership is key

CIOs are at the heart of today’s transformation imperative. They have the most informed perspectives on the digital megatrends that are driving so much disruptive change. They, and their teams, also design and deliver the technology innovations and solutions that will underpin so many transformation efforts. In the blogs that follow, we provide more perspectives on this transformation opportunity for the CIO.


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