Digital Leaders

Who are Canada’s Digital Dragons?

Our Digital Disruptors series focuses on the CIO’s and innovators who are leading Canada’s Digital Transformation.

With a goal of building a world leading digital nation we can see Canada’s CIOs and digital entrepreneurs as the generals leading this inspiring campaign.

The sum total of their digital transformation programs represents the national collective effort to achieve this vision, and unlock the full potential of the country.

So the question is how can we grow this sum total, how can we distill the practices employed by the most advanced and enable others to emulate them?

Digital Dragons

In their 2014 CIO Agenda report Gartner describes how ‘Taming the Digital Dragon’ (12 page PDF) is key to digital transformation strategies, with the hybrid cloud platform model as the enabling technology blueprint and business model. It’s also shared through this online presentation.

This has since been followed up with their 2017 briefing, where they state:

“There’s no pre-cut pattern for 21st-century business,” says Bard Papagaaij, research vice president at Gartner. “Safe pathways to success will be unknown and difficult to predict or even reliably test. CIOs must be armed with powerful adaptive capabilities and harness disruptive technologies and concepts to outmaneuver rivals.”

Leading digital transformation

Gartner principally characterizes this heightened capability in terms of competitive threat and advantage: “All industries in all geographies are being radically reshaped by digital disruption — a “digital dragon” that is potentially very powerful if tamed but a destructive force if not. It’s a CIO’s dream come true, and also a career-changing leadership challenge.”

They describe it as a dragon because it so effectively destroys the competition in its field, through a massive scale of technology leverage such as Netflix, Airbnb and Uber, with brands like Kodak or the Blockbuster video rental chain examples of those being destroyed by failing to adapt to this digital disruption.

To replicate this level of IT-driven success experts recommend CIO’s embrace the threat as a career opportunity, such as Harvard urging CIOs to take a leadership role, and also to become ‘digital mentors.’

McKinsey says the CDO takes on the role of the ‘Transformer in Chief‘.

Research and insights from Deloitte and Gartner show that the demand for implementation of new digital capabilities will ultimately mean a large and sustained market for digital transformation skills, with considerable recognition and reward for those CIOs synonymous with advanced, successful digital programs.

A key facet is achieving ‘Dragon Class’ to encourage a culture of innovation. As Which 50 writes enterprises need to better flex their risk appetite, being ready to embrace uncertainty and exploit disruptive changes, a view that MIT Sloan builds on to cultivate a portfolio of venture ideas so that they can sow multiple seeds of growth opportunity and further develop those that achieve market traction and success.

As Gartner concludes: “CIOs now face the challenge of straddling the second era of enterprise IT and a new, third “digitalisation” era — moving from running IT like a business within a business, into a period characterised by deep innovation beyond process optimisation, exploitation of a broader universe of digital technology and information, more-integrated business and IT innovation, and a need for much faster and more agile capability.”

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