IT Leadership And The Next Phase Of Digital Transformation

Navigating The Perfect Storm: IT Leadership Through The Next Phase Of Digital Transformation

Fred Isbell

The challenges of digital transformation are testing executive leadership across the C-suite. And in the middle sits the chief information officer (CIO) and the IT teams. As digital technology becomes embedded in nearly every aspect of business, IT is increasingly responsible for advising the C-suite on the adoption of new business models, work behaviors, and applications and services. All the while managing the day-to-day tasks that keep systems up and running flawlessly. A classic “perfect storm” of opportunity and challenges indeed!

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit study ” Digitising IT: Catalysts for Growth,” commissioned by SAP, both IT and non-IT executives from major international organizations believe that IT should take on a more active role in digital initiatives. In fact, 65% of IT executives and 69% of non-IT executives agree that collaboration between IT management and all other line-of-business leaders opens the door for success in digital initiatives.

However, executive leadership in boardrooms around the world are debating the capacity in which IT should offer key guidance on digital strategy. While the CIO is 37% more likely to own and lead digital transformation, CEOs (20%), COOs (15%), and even more that one member of the leadership team (16%) are also taking the reins.

Several key questions and vexing challenges have emerged:

  • How will businesses anticipate the risks and rewards related to the next phase of digital transformation?
  • Do we even know the full extent of critical challenges and opportunities facing IT in our era of digital disruption?
  • Better yet, are we ready to identify best practices and considerations for the transformation journey, from offering new solutions using cloud and service-based approaches to keeping existing applications running?

While these questions are a tall order for any organization to answer, they deliver a clear message: IT leadership can no longer just focus on providing a new application that “gets the job done.” CIOs must consider the employees, processes, assets, and customers that the technology touches.

By viewing technology through this lens, IT is better equipped to help advance corporate strategy with technology as the enabler. With that in mind we added this critical topic to our repertoire of SAP Digital Business Services thought leadership webcast series, featuring a world-class panel of subject-matter experts.

The IT connection to the next phase of digital transformation

I encourage you to join me for our latest Webcast, ” IT Leadership for the Next Phase of Digital Transformation ” on November 17 to hear this great panel of experts discuss these timely and relevant topics:

    Pete Swabey, Senior Editor, EMEA and Global Lead Technology Sector, Economist Intelligence Unit: Pete will share the results of recent research as IT is being asked to lead this transformation while keeping existing solutions up and running.
    Peter Russo, Global Vice President of SAP S/4HANA Product Marketing, SAP: Peter, a former analyst with PAC and a veteran of Digital Business Services marketing team, will offer insights on the successful creation of the digital core as the foundation for digital transformation.
    Geoff Scott, CEO, Americas SAP User Group (ASUG): Geoff will share his experiences as a former CIO and now as a CEO of an organization that is central and strategic in enabling and driving digital transformation across 3,700+ member companies across multiple industries.

After the event, I’ll report aha moments and chief learnings, which will include great insights from this “perfect storm” of our subject-matter experts.

Join Fred online:Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn,, SAP Services Hub


The Secret To Bringing Innovation To Your Company’s DNA

Oliver Huschke

Part 4 of the “Kick-Starting Innovation” series

Empowering innovation can change everything. It’s what inspired Alexander Graham Bell’s breakthrough work in telephony, optical telecommunications, hydrofoils, and aeronautics. It’s what drove Marie Curie to prove a doubting scientific community wrong when she pioneered radioactivity and discovered two elements that later became the core components of today’s technology. It’s what motivates Elon Musk’s quest to create more environment-friendly cars, light up every home with solar power, and send humans to Mars.

While these innovators’ stories are legendary, innovative ideas also reside in unlikely sources. I was recently reminded of this fact when watching the movie Hidden Figures. The story African-American mathematicians Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson detailed their vital role in the 1962 orbital space launch and safe return of the now-late astronaut John Glenn. Instead of being knocked down by a national culture of sexism and racism, each of these women brought attention to their innovative ideas by challenging the NASA system, breaking social norms, putting their talents on full display, and welcoming the support of an open-minded administrator or two.

Innovation is more than just acquiring a workforce diverse across race and gender. It’s about unleashing everyone’s potential because you never know where the next big idea will come from. Whether the innovator is an accounts payable clerk, field sales person, plant worker, or boardroom executive, businesses need all of their talents to help shape the future.

The empowerment pivot: How to build a business on human power

Many IT teams have internal technical experts on staff who are knowledgeable in traditional methodologies, programming languages, and business processes. While these skills may have served the business well, rapid adoption of cloud technology has created a skills gap, making it more difficult to improve business operations, processes, development, and go-to-market strategy.

Acquiring capabilities such as Big Data management, application security, cloud migration, and virtualization may help businesses solve common technological challenges. But this approach does not necessarily empower talent to use those skills to proactively build the momentum of their digital transformation.

Expert-guided cloud development sessions held throughout the year can provide the training, practical hands-on experience, and remote consulting needed to inspire the entire workforce with the right skills. Interactive and Web-based empowerment sessions use training materials to detail the development process step by step. Then learners can execute the steps on a cloud platform that hosts a digital twin of the company’s IT infrastructure and provides direct access to technology experts through remote support and screen-sharing.

Empowerment sessions can range from foundational skills to emerging trends, including:

Find out how your business can benefit from unlimited access to a showroom, a set of empowering sessions, and an innovation platform. Read the white paper “And don’t forget to check every Monday for new installments to our blog series “Kick-Starting Innovation.” Next week, we’ll explore how cloud adoption is driving innovation. Achieve Digital Transformation and Create a System of Ongoing Innovation.”

    Basic development on a cloud platform: Navigate tasks such as adding members, assigning roles to users, creating destinations to Internet resources, and connecting on-premises systems to the cloud platform account.
    Internet of Things: Create IoT applications with cloud platform and IoT enablement technology to capture and store data from connected sensors.
    Advanced development: Enable native development on an in-memory computing platform and expose data through the Open Data Protocol (OData), allowing businesses to create database tables, insert data, and build calculation and scripted views while adapting the application to evolving business needs.
    Mobile development: Discover the services and tools available to design, implement, and integrate enterprise applications. From mobile application use cases to end-to-end mobile architecture, employees can explore the characteristics of native iOS apps, SDK frameworks and components, Xcode integrated development environment, and the Swift programming language.
    Integration: Get acquainted with the cloud system landscape, integration, backend configuration, system connectivity, security, initial data load, scenario extensions, and monitoring capabilities.
    Cybersecurity: Cover the complete identity lifecycle with provisioning procedures and strategies. Grant, control, and protect secured access to the cloud platform and extend permission to business users, developers, administrators, and technical users.

With the help of empowerment sessions, businesses can solidify their transition to a digital business. Every organization can engage ideas from inspiration to prototype by identifying and testing new business models with minimal investment and risk. More important, quick access to preconfigured technology use cases, an agile development process, proven design-thinking practices, and a training workspace provides the guidance employees need to contribute to the future of the business – and the world.


About Oliver Huschke

Oliver Huschke is the global head of Solution Marketing for Digital Business Services at SAP. He has worked for SAP since 1997, starting with development where he built up and led the central test organization. Oliver was head of application management and managed marketing activities at SAP Hosting. Further stations include strategic development and Active Global Support with responsibility for global product management of the SAP Premium Engagement Program. Share your thoughts with Oliver on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Digitalist Flash Briefing: The CIO’s Cheat Sheet For Digital Transformation

Bonnie D. Graham

Today’s briefing takes us into the world of today’s CIO, whose role is changing and gaining importance in the enterprise, thanks to a new technology platform.

    Amazon Echo or Dot: Enable the “Digitalist” flash briefing skill, and ask Alexa to “play my flash briefings” on every business day.
    Alexa on a mobile device:

    • Download the Amazon Alexa app: Select Skills, and search “Digitalist”. Then, select Digitalist, and click on the Enable button.
    • Download the Amazon app: Click on the microphone icon and say “Play my flash briefing.”

Find and listen to Read more on today’s topic previous Flash Briefings on


About Bonnie D. Graham

Bonnie D. Graham is the creator, producer and host/moderator of 29 Game-Changers Radio series presented by SAP, bringing technology and business strategy thought leadership panel discussions to a global audience via the Business Channel on World Talk Radio. A broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years in media production and hosting, Bonnie has held marketing communications management roles in the business software, financial services, and real estate industries. She calls SAP Radio her “dream job”. Listen to Coffee Break with Game-Changers.

The Future Will Be Co-Created

Dan Wellers and Timo Elliott

Just 3% of companies have completed enterprise digital transformation projects .

92% of those companies have significantly improved or transformed customer engagement .

81% of business executives say platforms will reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems .

More than half of large enterprises (80% of the Global 500) will join industry platforms by 2018.

Link to SourcesRedefining Customer Experience

Many business leaders think of the customer journey or experience as the interaction an individual or business has with their firm.

A Network Effect

But the business value of the future will exist in the much broader, end-to-end experiences of a customer-the experience of travel, for example, or healthcare management or mobility. Individual companies alone, even with their existing supplier networks, lack the capacity to transform these comprehensive experiences.

Solutions could include:

Rather than go it alone, companies will develop deep collaborative relationships across industries-even with their customers-to create powerful ecosystems that multiply the breadth and depth of the products, services, and experiences they can deliver. Digital native companies like Baidu and Uber have embraced ecosystem thinking from their early days. But forward-looking legacy companies are beginning to take the approach.

What Color Is Your Ecosystem?

  • Packaging provider Weig has integrated partners into production with customers co-inventing custom materials.
  • China’s Ping An insurance company is aggressively expanding beyond its sector with a digital platform to help customers manage their healthcare experience.
  • British roadside assistance provider RAC is delivering a predictive breakdown service for drivers by acquiring and partnering with high-tech companies.

Abandoning long-held notions of business value creation in favor of an ecosystem approach requires new tactics and strategies. Companies can:

1. Dispassionately map the end-to-end customer experience, including those pieces outside company control.

2. Employ future planning tactics, such as scenario planning, to examine how that experience might evolve.

3. Identify organizations in that experience ecosystem with whom you might co-innovate.

4. Embrace technologies that foster secure collaboration and joint innovation around delivery of experiences, such as cloud computing, APIs, and micro-services.

Evolve or Be Commoditized

5. Hire, train for, and reward creativity, innovation, and customer-centricity.

Download the executive brief The Future Will be Co-Created.

Some companies will remain in their traditional industry boxes, churning out products and services in isolation. But they will be commodity players reaping commensurate returns. Companies that want to remain competitive will seek out their new ecosystem or get left out in the cold.

Read the full article The Future Belongs to Industry-Busting Ecosystems.


Build A Skill Development Road Map For Digital Transformation

Bernd Welz

Do the people in your organization have the necessary digital skills for the future? If you’re not sure that your employees are ready to contribute strategically on emerging technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, bots, blockchain, Internet of Things, and Big Data, now is the time to act to stay competitive.

In a recent study by Technical University Munich (TUM), 64% of companies surveyed said that they do not have the people with the skills necessary for digital transformation. Surprisingly, however, only 16% of companies have a skill development strategy in place to either up-skill current employees or acquire new employees with the needed skill profiles. As these numbers show, the digital skills gap poses a serious challenge for businesses today. The hard reality is that a lack of digital skills is the number one barrier organizations face for digital transformation.

For a CIO or HR executive, closing the digital skills gap can be like navigating uncharted territory. It requires vision, courage, and an all-hands-on-deck approach. The good news is now there’s a map to guide your journey.

Digital transformation strategy: Your North Star across the digital skills gap

Like many business leaders, you’ve probably given careful consideration to the digital products and business models your organization will need to explore in the future. You’ve possibly even defined a digital transformation strategy. There is an endless array of opportunities, depending on the direction in which you want to grow your business. It is especially important to start skills training early these days to understand the implications of new technologies in order to define the digital future of your company.

Investment in education enables employees to succeed in evolving roles and ensures a clear path forward for both the company and the individual. By becoming aware of the possibilities of emerging technologies and platforms, you are better equipped to explore and evaluate potentially new business models. The key is to define a digital transformation strategy for your company, because this will serve as the North Star for your organization’s skill development progression.

To close the digital skills gap, first define a digital transformation strategy for your company, your North Star.

To help companies assess the current state of their skill development progression and foster the skills necessary for success, SAP has introduced a maturity model created in collaboration with the European Research Center for Information Systems (ERCIS). The model is based on a survey of 116 business and IT decision-makers from 18 countries, and a series of in-depth interviews with 24 global companies. Its purpose is to help companies define their skill development strategy and reinforce that a supportive learning environment in both culture and infrastructure is critical to growth.

“Each company’s path is unique, but all companies need to prioritize digital skill development to be successful,” said Prof. Joerg Becker, chair, Information Systems and Information Management, ERCIS. “Our maturity model gives companies a framework to assess where they are and the support to guide them to where they need to go.”

Digital skills maturity model: Assess, aspire, adapt

The new model maps out five maturity levels for an organization in its digital skills progression – ranging from non-existent (characterized by a traditional culture, closed innovation, and inconsistent measurement) to optimized (characterized by data-driven organization, connected culture, fully digital skill management, smart learning, and learning analytics). For each level, a set of foundational enablers have been identified that characterize the culture of the company, its organization, and its attitude toward the management of digital transformation.

Similarly, the learning architecture underlying each maturity level describes the organizational approach to learning as well as individual preferred learning styles, based on four dimensions: skill management for systematically identifying and closing skill gaps; learning experience that takes into account individual preferred learning styles, like on-demand e-learning, self-learning, and informal learning approaches, as well as the learning management infrastructure; absorptive capacity for internalizing external innovations through inspiration and cross-pollination with other organizations; and learning measurement to assess the business impact of learning initiatives.

We recommend that you use the maturity model to guide your organization in defining, implementing, and adapting your skill development approach for digital transformation. Taking a systematic approach to skills development ensures that you identify and close skills gaps for digital transformation, while channeling educational investment toward maximizing business impact and facilitating meaningful learning experiences for employees. The first step is to assess the current situation in your organization by conducting a cross-functional skill gap analysis to identify current and future roles and required skills. The next step is to determine the maturity level your organization seeks to aspire to for its digital future. In the third step, you define the activities to adapt your organization to the aspired maturity level, guide improvement initiatives, and control success.

Map your digital skills development plan

We recommend that you use the maturity model to guide your organization in defining, implementing, and adapting your skill development approach for digital transformation. Taking a systematic approach to skills development ensures that you identify and close skills gaps for digital transformation, while channeling educational investment toward maximizing business impact and facilitating meaningful learning experiences for employees. The first step is to assess the current situation in your organization by conducting a cross-functional skill gap analysis to identify current and future roles and required skills. The next step is to determine the maturity level your organization seeks to aspire to for its digital future. In the third step, you define the activities to adapt your organization to the aspired maturity level, guide improvement initiatives, and control success.

More information about the maturity model and best practices are shared in the Webinar replay “How to Successfully Manage Your Company’s Digital Transformation by Overcoming the Digital Skills Gap” and the complete study. Close skills gaps with SAP Enablement offerings – from classroom-based learning to digital learning. Not sure where to begin? Contact SAP Education Consulting Services for a complete evaluation of the skills gaps in your organization and a plan for how to address them.

Article published by Bernd Welz. It originally appeared on SAP News Center and has been republished with permission.



Article by channel:

Read more articles tagged: Leadership