Digital Transformation from the Trenches: Transformation Strategies for the Digital CIO
by Vivek Vishnu (July 2018)
Publishers: Authors Upfront
Price: INR 695
One of the biggest sub-plots of the digital transformation discourse is the debate on the CIOs’ role. Is it becoming more important? Is it as important as it was a few years back? Or is it becoming irrelevant?
It is not that the debate was initiated by the digital transformation wave—it has been there for long—but for the first time, it was not IT or technology that was ruling; ‘digital’ had taken over—and it meant a whole lot of things. For one, technology was becoming friendlier. Then, not every technology in the organization was being channeled through the CIO and yet was making huge business impact—from cost optimization to new ways of decision making. In fact, for some, digital became a euphemism for ‘saving technology from the technologists’.
This led many companies to appoint separate Chief Digital Officers—whose brief was to ensure that the entire organization—or the selected strategic priorities of the organizations—gained from the digital technologies.
And who were these new breeds of people? While in the initial phase, the marketing and technology people got into a tug-of-war to have their ‘genuine’ claim over the position, ultimately it is core business guys—neither marketing nor IT guys—who dominated the CDO positions.
Just for consolation, IT guys did score over the marketing people and were a distant second to business guys. Very few CDO positions were filled by techies.
One of the few techie occupants of CDO positions in India is Vivek Vishnu, the CDO of Intex and the author of the book, Digital Transformation from the Trenches: Transformation Strategies for the Digital CIO.
The book is an attempt to tell his fellow techies—read enterprise IT managers—what digital transformation means for them, how they could be on top of it and how they could do it well.
The greatest advantage Vishnu has it that he exactly knows what kind of language CIOs and enterprise IT guys understand and uses that to share his knowledge. With his own first-hand experience added, it makes for a compelling mix.
There are plenty of books on digital transformation in the market. But most of them are not written keeping the CIOs in mind. And if they have been, they clearly lack a practitioners’ perspective. So, theoretically speaking, Vishnu’s book has a unique proposition.
He had had the choice of writing an extremely readable book that would have subtly delivered the big messages to discerning reader but would not have been technically ‘complete’. Or doing a formal, somewhat comprehensive book, that would follow a step-by-step methodological approach. He chose the later.
Probably that was a conscious decision, because at the end what Vishnu has delivered is a very useful textbook, based on a formal methodology of his own, called DigitalCIOLIVE framework. Any practitioner who is focused on backing the disparate on-the-job learnings with a formal holistic perspective, that help him connect the dots in a meaningful manner, this would be an extremely useful book. So is it as a digital transformation textbook in MBA classes.
I am resisting the temptation to go into the actual content because I may not be able to decide what to talk about and what not to.
It will suffice to say that if your expectation is it will help you drive digital transformation in your organization, it is a tall expectation. This is surely not the book.
Neither it is a book to pick up for reading on your flight—like the narrative business non-fictions that are immensely readable and engaging even while delivering strong learnings.
You must be serious about learning to get help from the book.
In short, it is for the lean-forward learner, not the lean-back casual reader.