How to develop a digital strategy as a CIO

Developing a successful digital strategy is one of the core responsibilities of a CIO, and the methods taken to do to do can vary depending on needs, resources and personal preferences.

CIO UKhears about the approaches taken by some of the UK's top business technology leaders.

Read next: How CIOs develop their leadership and management skills

Ian Golding - Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)

Ian Golding - Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)

Ian Golding was appointed interim CIO at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to develop a digital and IT strategy for his successor to put into practice. He devised a plan to provides relevant, flexible and innovative assistance to make empowered decisions and deliver the most effective training and rescue strategies by bringing together the separate parts of a complex organisation.

"It was very positive that the RNLI allowed me to function in an executive role to understand how technology worked across the organisation and to find the surprising synergies," he says.

"We had some really deep expert data science analytics capabilities in the organisation and through various events realised that this would be much more effective if it were implemented organisation-wide."

Read next: How Interim CIO Ian Golding developed a digital strategy for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution

Fatima Zada - Harvey Nichols Director of Technology and Innovation

Fatima Zada - Harvey Nichols Director of Technology and Innovation

Harvey Nichols Director of Technology and Innovation Fatima Zada believes that vendor management is an integral part of a digital strategy. She develops partnerships with suppliers who fit her digital vision and constantly checks that they remain the best companies for the job.

"I am a great believer in collaborating with vendors as an extension to my own team, as well as identifying key strategic partners who would be part of delivering our roadmap.

"With existing suppliers, we constantly have to ensure they are growing their product and services to be aligned with our strategy. For new partners we ensure we go via an RFI/RFP process, allowing us to assess their vision and flexibility around client growth.

"I am also very fond of engaging with startups to come up with innovative ideas based on their nimble and risk-taking culture."

Dylan Roberts - Leeds City Council

Dylan Roberts - Leeds City Council

Leeds City Council Chief Digital and Information Officer Dylan Roberts has driven through a range of significant city-wide initiatives by focusing on outcomes for people rather than delivering discrete service in his digital strategy.

Developing strong partnerships with vendors and the local digital sector has been crucial to his success.

"A great deal of emphasis is put on good governance and strong partnerships across local public services and the private sector to help deliver innovative strategies and solutions," he says.

"I have very much been at the forefront of developing this city-first, place-based approach which is changing the lives of our citizens for the better. I have also played a significant part in developing the local digital sector. For example, there are over 3,500 digital organisations in the area specialising in healthcare, digital marketing and e-commerce solutions/services, and we also have over 2,000 data scientists in the city."

Read next: Leeds City Council CIO fostering collaboration in 'city as a platform'

Charles Ewen - Met Office

Charles Ewen - Met Office

Met Office CIO Charles Ewen links his technology strategy directly to the overall corporate strategy at the national weather service. This means he needs a deep understanding of how the organisation works and how digital can help.

"I spend at least 60% of my time and focus on business activities and have a full understanding of the wider Met Office such that I can effectively understand how technology can advance our customer experience, as well as corporate goals and objectives and how those corporate objectives should be influenced by technology," he says.

Read next: Met Office CIO Charles Ewen on how supercomputers forecast the weather

Hywel Sloam - Arsenal FC

Hywel Sloam - Arsenal FC

Arsenal FC IT Director Hywel Sloman seeks input from across the organisation to understand their needs and how he can support them through his digital strategy.

"I spend a significant amount of my working week in one-to-ones with our C-suite and heads of department," he says. "This allows me to understand their needs/issues and to shape solutions to drive change.

"One specific example would be the efforts to drive greater understanding of data protection and the impact of the club. This has involved work at every level, from my agreeing with my CEO the level of priority we should accord to this, down to my team training every single user as to the impacts of the DPA, and what it means for day-to-day behaviour.

"In areas where there is a lower appreciation of technology, this requires more time and closer relationships."

Jason Oliver - Science Museum

Jason Oliver - Science Museum

Science Museum Head of ICT Jason Oliver develops the priorities for his digital strategy through forums and collaborating with the museum's digital director.

"Working in partnership with our digital director, we have been able to deliver joint messages about the symbiotic relationship required between digital and ICT, and how we rely on each other to flourish," he says.

"There is vast potential to extend our digital reach, and for much of our audience the digital visit may be their only visit. It is our challenge to make that experience the best it can possibly be."

Read next: Science Museum Director of ICT Jason Oliver on reinventing the IT department

Richard Cross - WS Atkins

Richard Cross - WS Atkins

WS Atkins Chief Digital Officer Richard Cross works closely with the engineering consultancy's leadership team to ensure that they understand the benefits of technology and support his digital strategy

"We drive our digital strategy at board level, making sure that digital in its broadest sense is well understood - it's about more than technology - and that the case for developing new ways of working, business models and products and services informs our business strategy.

"We work with the group SLT [senior leadership team] and OLT [operational leadership team] to explore what digital means for Atkins. Getting senior buy-in and engagement to develop and co-create an aligned view about Atkins' digital ambition has been essential.

"It has matured such that we were able to present our digital vision to industry analysts at the Atkins capital markets day. Our presentation explained our three growth themes of digital asset management, digital engineering and intelligent mobility, as well as providing real client examples of success."

Read next: Atkins CIO Richard Cross drives digital thinking with a startup mindset

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