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Digital Transformation Success Comes to Organizations with Daring Leaders

Digitally literate leadership, willing to pilot new technologies, key in successful digital transformation projects, report says.

Enterprise leaders unwilling to experiment with emerging technologies like artificial intelligence will experience disruption as their competitors are able to move faster towards digital transformation.

Results from a survey released on Tuesday by ISACA found that 25 percent of respondents do not believe their leadership is digitally literate, meaning they do not have a solid grasp of the benefits and risks of emerging technology like machine learning, internet of things (IoT) and blockchain.

ISACA is an international professional association focused on IT governance and cybersecurity, with more than 140,000 member companies. It surveyed 4,164 information technology, security and business executives, managers and professionals for its 2017 Digital Transformation Barometer report.

“We’re still in a world where the initial response to new technology is lukewarm,” ISACA vice-chair Rob Clyde tells ITPro. Clyde has spent his career in cybersecurity, including leadership roles at Symantec and Adaptive Computing.

“I think this has a great deal to do with why companies get disrupted. We see tremendous disruption that has occurred in our industry in a very short time,” he said, pointing to companies like Uber and Amazon.

He notes that the respondents to this particular survey are focused on security, so they may be more cautious when adopting new, unproven technologies compared to other roles within an enterprise. “These are people who are naturally going to be concerned about the risk aspects of these technologies,” he said.

Nine out of 10 organizations with digitally literate leaders evaluate new technologies occasionally or frequently, basing decisions around evaluating or adopting emerging technologies on core business metrics such as business need, expected return on investment, and speed of deployment, according to the report.

The findings echo a recent study by IDG which found IT is adopting new technologies that help support business goals, including increasing operational efficiency, improving customer experience, and increasing agility to better support changing business demands.

Clyde recommends that organizations who want to improve their posture for digital transformation start by creating a regular program of how to pilot or test potential technologies. He also said that leaders in an organization should engage with outside groups, like ISACA, to understand emerging technologies and potential use cases.

“I think people within an organization can help as well by putting the technology into terms that business leaders can actually understand, and explaining to them why they need to look into technology,” Clyde said.

Organizations with digitally literate leaders rely on stakeholders beyond the IT group to evaluate, test and pilot new technologies. By involving other lines of business, such as HR, legal, security, finance and operations, organizations may find it easier to make the business case for emerging technologies and show that the culture embraces change, the report said.

Digitally literate organizations are focused on R&D around several areas, with the most popular being big data and analytics (46 percent), followed by public cloud (42 percent), IoT (29 percent), artificial intelligence (25 percent), and blockchain (15 percent).


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