3 Compelling Reasons Why CIOs Resist Digital Transformation

A decade ago, businesses focused on data mining, search technologies, and virtual collaboration.  Many of them did not have a mobile strategy and social media was hardly leveraged to advance business goals.

Fast forward to 2017 and most technologists talk about digital transformation, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and machine learning.  However, if digital transformation is gaining mass popularity, why is there some resistance to its overall acceptance as the new normal?   A March 2017 study by Point Source titled `Executing Digital Transformation’ found that although companies planned to spend $1.2 trillion on digital transformation in 2017, less than half (44 percent) of IT decision makers are extremely confident in their organization’s ability to achieve the vision.  According to the report, many of the roadblocks relate to organizational structure and culture. The fear of the unknown is also rooted in the ambiguity behind digital transformation.

Here are the top 3 reasons why CIOs resist digital transformation:

The ‘mostly unknown’ factor

Technology is used to create and install solutions for businesses.   In the case of digital transformation, businesses have to start by examining their existing processes, look where improvements can be made, and identify weak links and dependencies in the system. However, with regard to existing processes, if everything is in place and working, why do we have to invest time, energy and money in cross-examination?  What can the value-add be in this transformation?  Without a clear idea about ROI, the need to change is met with resistance.  IDC’s 2017 predictions for digital transformation and for CIOs, confirms that only 40% of CIOs will lead the digital transformation of the enterprise by 2018. 

“Working fine” processes and systems

Those companies that have succeeded in creating a digital value proposition, have a clear view with regard to how they will exceed customers’ digital requirements. They also have realistic time-frames and budgets and this helps them to visualize the outcome.   The gaps that arise in terms of unmet customer expectations related to technology and the processes that are delaying in achieving their goals is where digital transformation can help.  All this requires a futuristic vision instead of a preference to go along with what is already working.  Resistance to change is the biggest hurdle in the way of innovation acceptance.  This resistance is stronger if existing processes and systems are at an overall level achieving business goals.

`Where to begin with’ data

All organizations have tons of data. The challenge for many is the unstructured nature of their data.  Some of them have siloed systems,  containing bits and pieces of data.  In the absence of a centralized information warehouse, there is no clear idea about what they do want to accomplish from this data.


The challenges are more in the nature of spring cleaning, modernizing and following a structured process oriented way to run the business.  Whether we call this digital transformation or anything else, we need to be able to look beyond the challenges at the advantages, knowing that our competitors have probably already begun their digital transformation journey.  As a  February 2017 research from McKinsey succinctly shows, companies that get digital transformation right, win market share, and those that don’t actually have a negative ROI for their investments.