CIOs put research about Canada’s digital transformation challenges in context

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Accelerating digital transformation in Canada will require large enterprises to change the way they work with startups, manage talent and shift internal culture, according to CIOs from several well-known organizations across the country.

Earlier this week, DX Agents announced the results of a research study conducted with the CIO Association of Canada which showed major gaps between the goal of transforming the way they work with digital technologies and achieving real results.

In a webinar to discuss the findings, several CIOs said the research backs up what they are experiencing on a day-to-day basis. They said the difficulty to adapt digital tools not only affects individual organizations, but the country’s overall ability to compete on a global basis. 

“I do think we are behind,” said Alexey Rykhva, head of IT and business service, Procter & Gamble Canada. “We’re seeing increased pressure from global digital players across different sectors, like Google and Amazon, who are trying to establish a much stronger presence in Canada.”

Rykhva said the economic, political and technological drivers of DX are coupled with sociological changes as Millennials come of age in the workforce.

“There is the whole new generation of consumers and employees who really don’t know how to live in a non-digital world, and they expect nothing less from organizations,” he said. “Older demographics will find (digital tools) helpful once they try things, like buying something online. They will become loyal (to the technology) and this will be their expectation at work too.”

Dean Doige, CIO at Edmonton-based Clark Builders, said firms working in more traditional sectors like construction may lack an understanding of how business models based on digital processes work, which makes it harder for them to catch up with what emerging companies are doing.

“It starts with the way the enterprise culture blends with the startups. Quite often it doesn’t, and you have to figure out where can it combine,” he said. “In some cases it may be more of an arms-length service that helps in one area and then becomes more integrated over time.”

Patience will be a big virtue for CIOs of all kinds who are pursuing DX, agreed Yasemin Sezer, head of operations and technology, LTI Canada.

“In many cases the technology we’re talking about is complex . . . they are hard to understand for business leaders,” she said. “There is a process you need to go through and discover what the benefits are.”

For CIOCAN president Humza Tehrany, it comes back to the age-old idea of IT leaders working harder to align their objectives with those of their counterparts in marketing, sales and other functions.

“It’s great to think about emerging technology and disruptive business models, but the real gains can be incremental,” he said, citing cost optimization as an example. “You have to really understand an in-year goal and align a digital enabler to that goal. Then it’s about building momentum and building knowledge.”

The webinar is now available on demand and the full research will be made available through DXAgents.

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.