CHRO’s to CIO’s: What’s holding back our Digital Transformation?

By November 1, 2018No Comments

Jim Steinlage, President & CEO of Choice Solutions –

Every organization faces unique business challenges.  But one current challenge nearly all organizations face is accelerating adoption of a digital work environment.

CHROs are turning to their CIOs to explain why their organization isn’t digitally transforming at the speed it should be. Yet, it’s often CHROs themselves who have a profound challenge with digital transformation. Why? Most experts point to two core reasons:

  • A lack of sufficiently strategic and innovative digital change at scale.
  • A firmly entrenched mindset that rejects new and different approaches.

To be sure, other barriers such as aging legacy systems, years of underinvestment, and an overriding focus on controlling IT costs are also serious impediments to becoming more digital. But corporate culture is often what stands in the way of eliminating these impediments.

The good news is more CHROs understand that to make meaningful progress, power must shift, and the culture must change. They must work to communicate with employees in new and different ways. And they must be willing to be pushed out of their (or their organization’s) culture zone.

The CIO Perspective

While cybersecurity and data privacy will always be high priorities for CIOs, a new generation of IT leaders is emerging, one that understands the importance of seizing HR digital opportunities and focusing on employee enablement and satisfaction.

Most CIOs agree that technical debt is one of the core reasons digital transformation isn’t happening at the speed it should be. Organizations that continue to fix short-term technical problems are, in effect, getting in their own digital way. Accepting this analysis and being willing to change corporate culture can help CHROs and CEOs get a better handle on how to embark on their digital transformation journey.

Overcoming Digital Transformation Barriers

Legacy technology is a natural and unavoidable side effect of running a business. Even today’s cutting-edge technology will be “legacy” in short order as the people and processes around them progress.

So, if technical debt is a given, how can you properly pay it down so your organization avoids lagging behind the competition, increasing fixed costs, and failing to integrate new technologies? There’s no silver bullet, but some solutions include:

  • Assessing your organization’s legacy and technical debt position to determine whether your current systems are beginning to hamper productivity, agility, and employee satisfaction.
  • Recognizing that an investment in digital transformation is, in fact, an investment in your people. Remember, digital transformation is about culture first, technology second. That means if you want to digitally succeed and innovate, your transformation strategy should challenge long-established culture norms within your organization.
  • Research shows that it’s the risk takers who achieve digital success. If you want a successful transformation, you’ll need to think outside the digital box. Let the new generation of tech savvy workers entering the workforce collaborate with their peers and IT to develop innovative applications and systems that best serve their needs and demands.

Today’s CHROs have the opportunity to take bold steps to foster reinvention and bring their organizations into the digital world. A willingness to rethink core organizational processes and the way employees interact with work can be the start of a transformation that lasts well into the future.

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