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Helping your CEO bring digital transformation to your company

Ariella Brown | 3 minute read

Zylotech_Helping your CEO bring digital transformation to your company_032819_headerWe’ve seen how the CMO and CIO have to come together to achieve optimal results from the marriage of marketing goals and technology. But there is also another key player in achieving the benefits of digital transformation, and that is the CEO. It’s important to get the CEO on board to realize the vision and to set up the four central components: culture, customer experience, change, and collaboration.  

File under C for culture, customer experience, change, and collaboration 

Transformation is only possible through cultural change, and that best happens through visionary leadership. According to Gartner’s 2019 CIO Agenda: Secure the Foundation for Digital Business, digital scale is a reality by now for a third of organizations, which represents about double the number that had achieved it last year. A major difference between those who have gone forward and those who are still hanging back likely can be chalked up to the vision of the leaders of the organization.


Daniel Newman, who is a CEO himself, describes the role the CEO plays in setting out the guiding vision for digital transformation in a Forbes article. With respect to culture, Newman tells the CEO, “As head of the company, you have the responsibility of defining the type of culture you want in your company—one that embraces change, allows for failure, encourages curiosity and keeps its mission close.”

Though the statement is addressed to the CEO, it also is important for the CIO to get involved in Zylotech_Helping your CEO bring digital transformation to your company_032819_subpromoting a culture that centers around the customer and that promotes progress. Accordingly, a Gartner press release on the changing role of the CIO quotes Andy Rowsell-Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, on the centrality of culture in digital transformation. In his view, it is the CIO who is tasked with identifying “existing cultural strengths” in order to “position cultural change as 'the next chapter,' rather than a massive overhaul, to respect employees' contributions and invite them to come along on the journey."

Customer experience

Like the CMO, the CEO also has to direct attention to the customer experience. In fact, according to a Gartner article on the CIO agenda for 2019, that is at the heart of digital transformation. The point of the tech is to discover “new ways to engage your audience” and to “deliver a superior experience across the consumer life cycle” by delivering customized content that is tailored to the needs and interests of the individual. This is why consumer metrics should dictate the measurements of success for embracing digital tech. 


Being open to change is essential for any organization that aspires to innovation. Though the CEO is not necessarily as tech-savvy as the CIO, the top-level position does have the responsibility to bring together all the component parts. As leader of the organization, Newman explains, the CEO would be in charge of being certain to get the right people on the “team of change-leaders, thinkers, and doers to discover new ways of operating.”


In other words, the CEO has to see how the various components will fit together, including finding the people that will successfully collaborate with each other, as well as with technological innovations like AI. As a Harvard Business Review article on the benefits of such collaborations put it, “Reimagining a business process involves more than the implementation of AI technology; it also requires a significant commitment to developing employees with what we call ‘fusion skills’—those that enable them to work effectively at the human-machine interface.”

The way forward for digital transformation

As we saw in Time to rebalance your technology portfolio for digital transformation, there are specific technological solutions that organizations that aspire to digital transformation are investing in now, sometimes moving their efforts from one form to another. Given that the transformation is an extended process that brings together the capabilities of different types of people interacting with each other as well as new technology, it can only be achieved through sustained leadership to direct a shared vision and culture that will allow for the risk of change for the better rather than clinging to the safety of business as usual.

Ariella Brown is a Zylotech contributing writer.

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Topics: Marketing Technology