3 strategies for measuring digital transformation

Here's how CIOs can measure the success of their digital initiatives.

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The CIO wears many hats, ensuring the entire organization is evolving in a way that is compatible with both company culture and IT capabilities.

When creating and executing a digital transformation initiative, it’s important to remember the reasons that companies are choosing to evolve. They evolve to keep up with the demands of consumer and the capabilities of the competition.

Digital assets are being upgraded every day with a focus on expanding capability, flexibility and reliability. In the rush to outpace the competition, it’s easy to lose focus of how the sausage is made – shortcuts and overzealous teams can easily derail complex transformations.

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Closely monitoring the transformation is a key task that successful CIO’s prioritize – both in regard to technological advances and employee development.

If you’re wondering where to start, you’re not alone. Only 26% of organizations are “completely ready” to execute digital strategies. That means a lot must change in corporate America for digital opportunities to be fully realized.

Identify human “monitors” in each department

Accountability is critical. And it’s impossible for a single member of the C-suite to monitor activity across multiple departments. Especially in IT divisions, it only takes one person to throw the entire upgrade timeline out of sync.

Synchronizing human resources and technical resources requires monitors on the ground, reporting back on a daily basis with progress updates to a proactive CIO. Traditionally, team leads and supervisors are tasked with executing the plan. But I recommend that CIOs communicate the necessity for managers to report on progress on a daily basis – and don’t be afraid to empower your “monitors” with tools and software to help automate the process.

Nobody wants to feel like they’re being tasked with a time eater.

Robust software for monitoring digital transformation

Thousands of lines of code, in multiple coding languages, must work together in order to complete a digital transformation initiative. If one piece of the puzzle fails, customers have a poor experience and your customer-facing teams are impacted with a deluge of phone calls and trouble tickets. And your IT department is put into debugging mode – a major time eater that directly hits the bottom line.

To avoid this fiasco, companies that are serious about rolling out meaningful upgrades use robust software, like New Relic, to monitor code changes, compatibility and security. But this software is becoming increasingly cost-prohibitive, even for medium-sized firms.

Instead, companies are turning to more cost-effective alternatives to New Relic – especially considering that full code logging is no longer a standard feature and monthly plan costs have skyrocketed.

To manage the IT side of rolling out a digital transformation initiative, robust monitoring software is essential. Barry Boehm’s guide, Software Engineering Economics, published a cost curve that shows the financial impact of implementing fixes rises with the passage of time.

In other words, catching a bug or glitch early is far cheaper and less impactful on the bottom line. Did I already mention monitoring is important?

Use smart scenarios to score the value of a digital evolution

It’s also a CIO’s responsibility to ask the tough questions before embarking on a digital transformation crusade. The boardroom and sales teams will always cry out, “More! More! More!” But, before you go chasing after every request, measure customer interest.

The lack of customer loyalty in today’s instant-gratification market is a double-edged sword. Too much change, and you’ll scare customers away. Too little, and the competition will exploit your weaknesses.

The best tech innovators and market disruptors use Smart Scenarios to envision the future and anticipate the changes that will actually matter to the customers of the future. In 2007, would you have preferred to be in the shoes of the engineers working on improving the next-generation of Blackberry keyboards or the CIO in charge of creating the digital platform that supports Apple’s iOS to power the iPhone?

According to Paul Schoemaker, “Scenarios are well-crafted narratives about the future that tell very different stories about what might happen.” This allows you to predict the future, or important aspects of it, with greater accuracy.

Here’s how he recommends pursuing this strategy:

  1. Define the issue.
  2. Make a list of what you know.
  3. Identify what you don’t know.
  4. Construct multiple scenarios.
  5. Assess the plausibility of each scenario.
  6. Eliminate combinations that are implausible.

If the strategy worked for Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, shouldn’t you be identifying the scenarios your digital transformation is meant to create and adapt to?

Combined with on-the-ground monitoring, as well as cloud-based software development monitoring, effective CIOs can help steer their companies in a more profitable and secure direction.

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