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CEOs increasingly discuss ‘digital’ at board meetings, shareholder events and analyst briefings. They are wax lyrical about their organisation’s digital transformation programmes internally and externally, understanding them to be key to surviving and thriving in the new highly competitive and highly uncertain business environment. However, many are also concerned that their digital transformation programmes are too little, too late and that their organisation is not agile enough to cope with continuous change.

These CEOs see disruption in their own markets and across the economy, from new entrants to markets – be they start-ups or industry giants. They want to be the disruptor, not the disrupted, but they are not confident they will succeed. Analyst group Forrester caught the mood when it reported 60 percent of the CEOs it surveyed for the start of 2018 felt their digital efforts were falling behind.

And it is here where the CIO has a critical role to play. The CIO’s responsibility is to assuage these fears with a clearly communicable, transformative vision that identifies and capitalises on the revolutionary technologies, both available and emerging, that will offer relevant, real world business advantage.

New systems and services typically create complex interoperability and interdependency issues when bolted on top of old, monolithic application and hardware stacks. At the same time, those application and hardware stacks are often running the business and delivering the profits necessary to invest in the digital transformation. A foundational part of any CIO vision will therefore focus on removing limitations that would inhibit the adoption of new technologies - and consequently a natural priority becomes the transformation of existing technology stacks to cloud.

The CIO can support the CEO by delivering a clear cloud roadmap which describes how the organisation will design and deliver a platform for continuous innovation, and which is tied to clear, short-term and longer-term commercial and operational outcomes. This roadmap will vary by organisation in terms of complexity and consequently cost – so the CIO must consider new sourcing and partnership approaches to protect the CEO’s investment, says Adam Evans, Professional Services Director for EMEA at Rackspace.    

‘Looking at external sourcing contracts for technology advisory, enablement or management services as peripheral to core strategy is missing the point. Take your time to build an integrated ecosystem of trusted partners and strategically leverage their combined skills and experience to move across technologies with minimal disruption - there’s no prizes for going it alone.’

In an era of rapid business and technical change, it can be challenging for organisations to retain internally all the skills and resources necessary for holistic, sustainable digital transformation.

Companies that succeed will proactively seek out expert guidance and resources to deliver critical cloud-based applications, understanding their pivotal relationship with business strategy, product and service innovation

If you’d like to learn more about how cloud can facilitate your digital transformation journey, click to listen to ‘The Cloud Migration Masterclass’ podcast series. This podcast series is brought to you by CIO in partnership with Rackspace.