Digital transformation, though still in the early stages, is undeniably a revolutionary change for organizations and their leaders. And like most digital revolutions, CIOs and executive teams are finding the strongest impacts in the way they communicate with their customers and the way they operate as a business.

Industry leaders recently came together at the CIO Strategy Meeting in New York to discuss experiences, challenges, and opportunities surrounding transformative innovation arising from digital methods and technologies. David Kennington from The Center for Technology Management at Columbia University led the discussion and provided insights compiled by the group.

That said, here are a few questions to ask and success factors to track when thinking about your own organization’s digital transformation:

Key Questions:

  • What are the drivers for your organizations’ digital transformation?
  • Where are your organization’s resources being targeted?
  • What is critical to the success of your organization’s digital transformation?

Critical Success Factors:


Drive from the ground up.

Creating meaningful senior business leadership engagement is vital to digital transformation. Success in digital transformation requires that the initiative must come from the bottom while active sponsorship is essential from top management. Quite a tightrope.


Reinvent priorities.

Leveraging opportunities from digital organizations to create new business opportunities requires that technologists map out new priorities. In the past, control of change was seen as essential for system stability. Digital Age organizations thrive on change and approach systems differently. All organizations need to adapt to this new world to enable innovation.


Work towards improving the customer experience on all devices. 

Today’s significant projects reference “moving data to be accessible to the customer” and “implementation of a portal” to provide a single point of access. Online access to transactional capabilities like view customer bills and online bill payment are viewed as significant steps by management. Less obvious is the need to upgrade systems to improve reliability since even small outages or slowdowns are very visible to the outside world.


The main thread in digital initiatives is communication.

This is focused on customers rather than employees. In today’s world, everyone has some form of a “Big Data” initiative happening. But what happens when you’re waiting for these initiatives to bear significant fruit? Successful communication needs top-down support and requires bottom-up initiative.


Transformation is closer to revolution than evolution. That means rather than adapting existing business models how does IT lead the creation of new business models. For instance, one of the participants works for Interstate batteries. Interstate has had a profitable past selling thru a network of distributors. How does Interstate successfully change their business model before Amazon finds a way to store and ship batteries directly.

Amazon exists principally because of technology and is threatening others business models, often leaders in their markets. Kodak did not see a world beyond film and is near extinction, the goal is not to be the next Kodak.



Much thanks to David Kennington for lending his summary on the conversations around digital transformation from the CIO Strategy Meeting discussion group session!

Looking to add your own thoughts to the conversation on Digital Transformation? Attend our upcoming CIO Strategy Meeting in Chicago on August 9-10! From a great, active group of participants to a unique selection of discussion topics, this is the CIO event you won’t want to miss.

Click here to download the Chicago CIO Strategy Meeting agenda, or email our team at to begin your registration and onboarding.

Be sure to also view our full calendar of 2017 Strategy Meetings here on our website!