Digital Transformation: Leading from the Top

The increasing role of the CEO in IT decisions

There was a time when IT decisions would be left entirely to the IT department, with CTO’s weighing in if needed.

For businesses not big enough to have a CTO and full department, IT decisions usually fell to the people in the business who had the most technical know-how. The CEO focused on strictly strategic and high-level actions and considerations.

But now, the world is changing. And so CEOs are finding themselves getting more and more involved with IT decisions in their business.

There is more pressure on CEOs to justify investment trade-offs. IT personnel’s involvement is also widespread in almost every area of business. As a result of these factors, CEOs are fast becoming a critical part of any business IT decision. We think this can only be a good thing.

CEOs Are The Driving Force

Before we get stuck in, let’s take a look at the definition of a CEO:

“The CEO is the highest ranking individual in a company or organisation. They are responsible for the overall success of the business, and for making top-level managerial decisions. They may ask for input on major decisions, but they are the ultimate authority for making final decisions.”

Admittedly, on its own, this definition doesn’t say much. But when you look at the typical responsibilities of a CEO, the daily role and responsibilities start to become clear:

  • Communicating, on behalf of the company, with shareholders, government entities, and the public
  • Leading the development of the company’s short- and long-term strategy
  • Creating and implementing the company or organisation’s vision and mission
  • Evaluating the work of other executive leaders within the company, including directors, vice presidents, and presidents
  • Maintaining awareness of the competitive market landscape, expansion opportunities, industry developments, etc.
  • Ensuring that the company maintains high social responsibility wherever it does business
  • Assessing risks to the company and ensuring they are monitored and minimised
  • Setting strategic goals and making sure they are measurable and describable

So you see, advancing innovation efforts is a CEO’s job. They are supposed to be the driving force behind business change and performance. Since technology is something that weaves its way through pretty much all of the points on that list, CEOs need to take a more active role in making key IT decisions and directing the company’s digital strategy.

Digital Transformation From The Top Down

Digital transformation is no longer a trend and considered something new that only cutting-edge businesses do. It’s a norm, in fact. With worldwide spending on digital transformation topping $1 trillion (£767 billion) last year, it’s essential for any growing business.

Studies have shown that top-down leadership styles are the most effective in creating real change, and one area employees are desperate to see change starting at the very top is in digital transformation.

Yet, time and time again we see this vital task delegated to the IT department – or worse, to Marketing or HR.

And there are good reasons for this. For one thing, studies have shown that one of the biggest factors holding businesses back from implementing effective digital change is a lack of leadership.

Of those companies with a digital transformation strategy in place, 89% have no one person as a clear leader. This causes confusion, disparate efforts and some pretty significant IT bottlenecks.

Creating change in a company often requires top-down adoption. So, if the person at the very top of the company doesn’t understand the tech, or is slow or unwilling to use it, then the rest of the company is highly unlikely to ever fully adopt it.

Consequently, this creates a lot of problems within businesses, including friction between departments, technical problems, communication issues and security risks. To be truly effective, digital transformations need to happen from the top down.

CEO’s Drive Hiring Decisions

Digital transformation isn’t just about getting the right technologies in place for your business – it’s making sure you have the right people with the right skills to make the most of them as well.

That means hiring the right talent into the business. While bigger businesses will have HR departments to oversee the actual hiring process, it’s the CEO who ultimately decides what kind of person the business is looking to hire.

To make the most of new technologies and achieve their business goals, CEOs need to shift their attitude towards finding technology-literate talent with a wide range of skills. Adopting this approach makes them ideal for digital transformation and future endeavours.

Even when hiring isn’t a priority, CEOs should be encouraging transformation in their talent base through reskilling, development and culture change.

Get Support If You Need It

Of course, a CEO is just one person, and no one person can do everything. If a CEO is not a tech person, or simply has too much on their plate, how are they supposed to lead the charge in technological change?

The answer, ask for help.

There are plenty of IT experts out there who can help CEOs understand their options, make informed decisions and lead their business to success.

At Indigo IT, we support businesses and CEO’s in all aspects of digital transformation and IT, big or small.

Not only that, but we help you keep your finger on the pulse of your business’s digital performance with frequent reviews and health checks.

We provide an annual IT ‘MOT’, which gives you a strategic review of your IT systems and guidance on any improvements or changes that could be made.

Our services are all wrapped up in a convenient 30-day rolling contract for your convenience.

If you would like to find out more, just get in touch with the team at Indigo IT today.