CSC: Nobody Has a Monopoly on Digital Leadership

InsightaaS: CSC’s Leading Edge Forum carries occasional posts from several CSC experts — notably, author and analyst David Moschella, who has grown from a role as the executive responsible for IDC’s international research into his current position as an advisor to CSC’s global enterprise clientele. In "Nobody has a monopoly on digital leadership," Moschella makes the case that as business becomes increasingly digital, business leaders are recognizing that they have a shortage of digital leadership. To address this issue, Moschella believes, enterprises should draw on four sources: IT, executives, customers (via co-creation) and "double deep" employees who "know both their job — marketing, engineering, customer services, finance, etc. — and the IT that is relevant to that job."

It’s a perennial dilemma. As information technology becomes ever more strategic and pervasive, effective Digital Leadership is needed by just about every organization. But where will this leadership come from? Should business executives be expected to drive important — but often highly complex — technology initiatives, or should IT professionals assume the lead? Teamwork is always a good idea, but who is ultimately in charge?

While such questions have been debated for many years, they are now more vexing than ever. In a business climate increasingly shaped by smart products, social marketing, advanced analytics, Do-It-Yourself technologies and disruptive innovations, many companies recognize that they face a serious Digital Leadership shortage. Too many executives and managers are unprepared for the challenges of the future, while many IT organizations are struggling to overcome the back-office focus and culture of the past. The results are all too familiar: missed opportunities, project disappointments, time and cost overruns, lack of accountability, organizational confusion, and so on.

As depicted in the figure below, we believe that nobody has a monopoly on Digital Leadership. This implies more than just the need for teamwork. Since information technology affects virtually every aspect of the modern firm, employees, managers and executives, Enterprise IT and even customers can all become digital leaders within their respective and highly inter-related domains...

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