CIO Insights: 5 Questions with Dr. George Westerman, MIT Sloan Initiative


Rural Sourcing is excited to have Dr. George Westerman deliver the keynote address at this year’s Cloud Summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Dr. Westerman is a Principal Research Scientist with the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy where his research and teaching focus on digital technology leadership and innovation. He is co-author of two respected books: The Real Business of IT: How CIOs Create and Communicate Value, named the #1 Book of 2009 in its field, and IT Risk: Turning Business Threats Into Competitive Advantage, named one of the top five books of 2007. He is coauthor of a new recent book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation.

We provided Dr. Westerman with 5 questions on digital transformation to provide CIOs insight into what comes next and how to be prepared.

How do you define digital transformation?

Musing technology to radically extend the performance or reach of an organization.   Its about new business models and customer experiences but also operational improvements. It’s not about the technology but about making your company better. 

In the digital space, where should companies be investing today?

Certainly, you want to pay attention to AI/Machine Learning, Virtual/augmented reality, IoT and other advanced technologies.  But the key is to focus not on the tech but on how it can enable you to work differently. We see companies transforming in four major areas: customer experience, employee experience, operations, and business models.

How can CIOs better communicate the value of technology and be leaders of the digital transformation?

Don’t try to communicate the value of technology.  That’s a losing approach.  Instead, show the value of new ways of doing business.  The tech is just an enabler, not the lead story.

What are the next trends for CIOs and IT leaders?

We have not seen successful long-term transformations happen in large companies without the IT group engaged.  Whether IT leads digital or someone else does, find a way to work closely together.  

When CIOs and CDOs fight, it’s often the CIO who loses. Senior business execs wouldn’t have hired a digital leader if they thought IT was up to the job. Find a way to get more agile and more business savvy, and to work with digital, not against.

What can CIOs do to prepare themselves and their organizations for the future?

Get more agile and easier to do business with. Work to understand the business and the challenges facing business leaders.  Then, instead of saying “no” you can say “here’s a better way.” And when you say “yes,” you can deliver great things. 


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