5 New Year's Resolutions for CIO and Digital Transformation Leaders

Happy holidays and new year everyone! Have your final cocktails of 2018, read up on my driving digital predictions for 2019, and get ready to lead your organizations through what is likely going to be a jittery year of successes, surprises, and necessary pivots.

Driving Digital Resolutions

I'm guessing you have your 2019 plan locked and loaded, but if you're a reader of my book Driving Digital, my articles (here and on InfoWorld and CIO) and the monthly Driving Digital Newsletter, you'll know that roadmaps need ongoing refinement.

So with that, allow me to suggest some new year's resolutions that you might want to bake into your 2019 plans.

Number One Why Digital Transformation Fail
1. Develop relationships, then drive change

If transformation is a journey, then you best be prepared to meet, learn from, question, inspire, and drive change with new people every day. These activities should occupy a healthy percent of your weekly activities especially because you need relationships and empathy before you can drive culture, behavioral, and process changes. Consider establishing a Driver's Voice Meeting, taking steps to become an agile organization, looking for new ways to reward top performers, and seeking other practical advice for managing organizational change. The number one reason digital transformations fail is because executives fail to embrace that it's a bottoms up transformation that will require change across the organization.

Spaghetti Coders
2. Ensure 30% of the agile backlog is addressing technical debt

This is one of my hallmark benchmarks for healthy agile planning and one of the key things CIO should do to evade bad application architectures. You can't just invest in the new shiny objects (ie, AI, blockchain, IoT and other emerging tech) without chipping away at the costs and complexity entangled in your legacy environments. In addition to addressing technical debt, ask yourself whether you are investing in too much proprietary code that is expensive to develop and maintain and whether low-code platforms can address some of your application development needs.

Driving Digital DevOps
3. Automate QA and security testing in CI/CD pipelines

This drives me crazy: IT leaders and developers that want to repave the roads and enable their applications to reach production at 90mph without considering quality and safety checks on the road and in their vehicles. Really? You think that's going to work long term and is the healthiest plan for your business, customers, and end users?

Please don't write another line of code without reading this, then consider my 5 recommendations on developing CI/CD pipelines, and then please read more on aligning agile and devops with test automation. If you are just getting started, then have a read of five ways to justify your devops investment.

Driving Digital Workshops on Data Driven Organizations

4. Roadmap a proactive data governance program

With the initial GDPR compliance behind us, I hope more organizations will take proactive steps and invest in data governance programs. Yes, you cannot afford to lag in your industry with data, analytics, and AI, and maybe you are already becoming a real time enterprise, but most experts agree that investing in data quality, cataloging, and access policies is a critically important step. 

Isaac Sacolick Speaking
5. Learn outside-in and get out of the office

There's only so much you and your team can learn within your office. Earlier this year, I blogged 10 reasons to attend technology conferences and shared twelve things I learned after publishing Driving Digital - all coming from speaking and attending conferences. Even if you can't get out of the office as much as you'd like, there are ways to learn outside-in by participating in twitter chats such as #IdgTechTalk 12pm ET on Thursdays and #CIOChat at 2pm ET also on Thursdays.

2019. It's going to be an interesting year!

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.