The turnaround: Inheriting digital transformation

With digital transformations either stalled or splintered, newly hired CIOs must pick up where their predecessors left off and remake IT with a singular focus on supporting the business vision.

The turnaround: Inheriting digital transformation
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When Doug Saunders joined Advanced Disposal Services as CIO in 2017 he quickly learned that technology consumption at the $1.6 billion waste management provider was fragmented across "digital fiefdoms," including sales, marketing and other departments.

"It was who screamed the loudest and had the most political clout," Saunders recalls. "The CEO [Richard Burke] was frustrated by the lack of progress."

Frustration is a recurring theme for many CEOs, whose organizations have launched technology strategies aimed at transforming the business only to see those efforts suspended in permanent adolescence due to political infighting and organizational chaos that halts progress. Only 33 percent of more than 6,000 CIOs described their digital strategy as maturing, according to a Gartner CIO survey. Of those respondents, 20 percent reported that they were scaling efforts, while 13 percent said they were refining their work.

"Everybody else is heading toward that tipping point because most enterprises haven't created that cohesive approach," says Irving Tyler, a Gartner analyst who advises CIOs. With digital transformations in flight, CIOs must both secure champions in the business and deliver on what they promise, Tyler says.

And when transformations stall, one solution that is sometimes employed is to bring a new CIO on board.

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