The role of the CIO is changing. Digital transformation is shifting leadership roles and responsibilities. CIOs are more visible than ever before. They face increasing complexity, scrutiny — and opportunity. As technology innovation and delivery timelines accelerate, the conversation is changing from IT cost to value. Those who can demonstrate value and build trust with a compelling story of digital transformation will drive their organizations to a successful future.
CIOs own the digital transformation story
Digital transformation is a team effort, involving the CEO, CFO, CMO, COO and HR, among others. However, the CIO is driving digital transformation more and more. To be successful, CIOs need a compelling story that is grounded in well-defined goals and outcomes. This story also needs to align to the corporate brand and be driven by business strategy, an understanding of market forces and customer expectations.
Digital and social media offer myriad opportunities for CIOs to target key stakeholders with well-honed, well-timed communications. Past communications may have been largely event-driven – e.g. quarterly reports, monthly newsletters and static websites. Today’s CIO communications must mirror the speed of change and agility that the digital world demands. Keeping stakeholders bought in – whether they are in the C-suite, on the front line with customers, or end users – requires communications that draw a clear picture of the now, next and future even as the digital environment creates near constant disruption.
The ultimate goal is to tell the story of digital transformation in simple, relevant terms. It must be manageable, meaningful and memorable so that everyone in the organization can internalize and repeat it and so that customers can collectively understand how the corporate vision helps them. CIOs can achieve that goal quickly with an effective communications strategy that focuses on creating connection, building consistency and enhancing credibility.
Planning an effective IT communications strategy
The first step in developing a compelling communications strategy for your IT organization and digital transformation is to create a deeper connection with your key stakeholders. CIOs must understand what their stakeholders care about and consider how they are helping to fulfill those needs. Only then can CIOs focus on communicating the business value of IT progress in a way that resonates. It is also important to give credit to the teams that are driving progress forward. Using a common language to communicate progress and wins helps to personalize the CIO’s story and create a connection with stakeholders.
The second step in building support for digital transformation is to improve the consistency of communications. CIOs must identify the channels that are most effective in reaching their stakeholders — delivering the right message, in the right place, at the right time. Establishing this consistency will build expectations and delivering according to the established cadence will reinforce the CIO’s story and build understanding, internalization and trust.
The third step is to build credibility. For CIOs, this begins with an understanding of how their IT organizations and digital transformation plans are currently perceived, and setting concrete goals for improved perception. It is critical to benchmark at the beginning of the communications strategy development and measure progress at regular intervals. CIOs should track not only their progress in meeting their IT and business goals, but also confirm that their communications are on pace with their IT strategy and delivering expected results.
The internal is external…and vice versa
As a final consideration, CIOs should ensure that communications are aligned internally and externally. In the age of interconnectedness, it is more important than ever that the internal story mirrors the external story. Employees are not only an organization’s greatest evangelists, they are also customers.
Messages should be tailored to connect with the appropriate audience, but at their core should reflect a consistent story to maintain credibility. CIOs that use this framework to tell their story will develop the trust and support needed to successfully implement their digital transformation plans and drive their organization forward to improve service to their customers.
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Digital transformation thrives with hybrid CFOs
Director of Communications, Enterprise Technology Strategy and Innovation
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Director of Marketing, Enterprise Technology Strategy and Innovation
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