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CIO Best Practices: 3 Key Steps for Digital Transformation Initiatives

Digital transformation has the potential to revolutionize citizen services, but efforts to bring about that change are "often hindered by top-down hierarchies, cultural legacies and the lack of a compelling vision," according to information from Gartner, an information technology research and advisory company.

Gartner spoke with numerous public sector CIOs who have lead successful digital transformation initiatives. Based on those conversations, Gartner identified three key steps to effective organizational change.

The first step is to promote a compelling new vision for the organization as a whole, including the role of IT in that transformation. The CIO should outline that vision in a brief document written in "clear, nontechnical terms," said Elise Olding, research vice president at Gartner, in a prepared statement. The vision statement should specify the problem with the current organizational direction and outline steps toward improvement. The CIO can then present this vision statement to executive leaders for them to "affirm, revise or reject and replace."

Once the executive leadership is on board with the new plan, the next step is to get buy-in from mid-level managers and frontline staff. The key to engaging these people is to make it clear how the new vision will improve their role, according to Gartner. Since many staff members will have invested considerable effort in previous visions, it's important to make it clear how the new vision builds on their previous work rather than undoing it.

People who are comfortable in the current organizational culture may resist change and consequently smother innovation, particularly if the people who hold those attitudes are in leadership positions. "The CIOs who succeed in transforming the business actively confront ingrained behaviors, traditions and legacy processes," said Olding. "They challenge leadership and are successful in instilling a clearly defined sense of urgency around their vision that gains the trust and support of the entire organization, from leadership to frontline workers."

Gartner is holding two events "to help IT leaders harness digital transformation in their organizations. The Gartner Digital Workplace Summit will be held Sept. 21 to 22, 2016 in London, UK, and the Gartner Application Strategies and Solutions Summit will be held Dec. 6 to 8, 2016 in Las Vegas, NV.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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