Think back to when you were a kid. Did your parents ever bribe you with a trip to the circus? If so, you probably remember fingers sticky from cotton candy, unshaven and unkempt carnies and even those near-death experiences on the teacup ride.
But the main attraction happened inside the tent, where zoo animals and acrobats paraded around in carefully controlled chaos. And in the midst of it all was one leader, one orchestrator, one ringleader.
Choosing Your Digital Strategy Ringleader
Implementing a digital strategy can feel a lot like being in the center of that ring. Except instead of elephants and snarling lions, you have to overcome company culture, budgets and adoption attitudes. But the right leader can help quell that chaos and lead your company through digital change.
In a recent post, Jim Sinur of Aragon Research argues that one of the most crucial steps for a successful digital change is identifying the right person to lead the charge. This is your ringleader. And with Gartner reporting 59 percent of IT leaders feel unprepared for the digital age, the time to name your ringleader was yesterday. Here are four individuals to consider when naming your next strategy leader.
- The CEO
Having a CEO who prioritizes technology financially and culturally is ideal. Having a CEO willing to spearhead digital initiatives is nirvana. The CEO has the power to affect quick and widespread change due to her influence over the organization. And realistically, no one should have a more holistic vision and understanding of the company.
Yet relying on your CEO can often stall digital progress. Even the most organized and efficient CEO has to wear more hats than the digital savant. A pipe dream for most, the CEO can typically only lead the digital charge for startup or small-scale companies.
- The CIO
A more realistic choice might be your CIO. By default, he owns the new and emerging technology space for your business. However, Sinur waves a caution flag here. Over the past decade, companies have slowly begun to appoint utility-type CIOs. These types of CIOs may focus less on implementing a new mobile testing tool and more on keeping the lights on day-to-day. If innovation isn’t in your CIO’s blood, you’ll want to look elsewhere for your digital ringleader.
- The CMO
We know what you’re thinking: CMOs often lack the deep technical acumen to implement a digital change. But it’s worth noting that the CMO should have the most accurate grasp on customer desires and behaviors, a fundamental piece to achieving the ultimate goal of customer engagement.
So while he may not be able to drive the implementation solo, with a tech-savvy team behind him, the CMO can make an excellent champion for new digital initiatives.
- The Department Head
At the end of the day, a department head is often the most realistic choice for leading a new digital initiative. Her accessibility is often greater than anyone at the C-Suite, and since her domain is smaller than more senior management, this provides an opportunity to “sand box” your efforts.
Sinur notes that it’s important to recruit someone with “fire in [her] belly,” as a commitment to innovation isn’t natural to all department heads, but it’s vital to your success.
Providing your Ring Leader with Support
Regardless of who you choose to lead your next digital initiative, he/she can’t do it alone. Behind every great ring leader, there’s an unseen cast helping provide the tools, knowledge and overall support needed for success.
So what do you think? Within your own organizations, who typically gets appointed to lead through digital change? Sound off in the comments section below, and feel free to read Jim Sinur’s article in its entirety here.