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The Digital Transformation Cavalry Isn’t Coming

Given the onslaught of digital disruptors and the 70% failure rate in digital transformation, a lot of c-suites are anxiously seeking a savior: a Chief Digital Transformation Officer (CDxO) who will ride in on a white horse, run off digital disruptors, and transform the company in an online juggernaut.

Hopefully, you are not in a hurry. Because as a recent report from one of the world’s most respected executive recruiting firms, Korn-Ferry, warns, “Highly experienced digital talent, now capable of leading a transformation or possessing the traits and aptitudes to be digitally ready in the near future, is scarce… and it’s in sky-high demand.”  Translation: your company won’t find blue-chip CDxO candidates quickly and if you did, you probably couldn’t outbid other companies for their services.

So as they say in the movies, “the cavalry isn’t coming.”  You might well be on your own, encircled by competitors and digital disruptors. Hopefully, you can enlist a handful of colleagues across the organization willing to join you in leading the charge; if you collectively have the stomach for taking the lead, the responsibility – and the credit – for transforming your company may well fall to you.

Leading your digital transformation in-house might be a blessing in disguise – though it will seem very well-disguised at first – if you select the right technology partner and internal colleagues.  Getting started will take some initiative and, as they say in the cavalry, a little “horse trading.” You will need to win over colleagues in other departments by showing them how sharing customer information across business lines fills in the gaps in one another’s data, and results in more comprehensive “connected decisions.”  Later, as more and more departments wish to share in that success and their own data, your company’s customer information becomes even more complete, ultimately culminating in fully “centralized decisions,” or “customer centricity.”

Learning to Lead

How do you get started?  If you are a line-of-business leader, part of the CIOs office, or somewhere else in the executive ranks, it is very likely that none of you have “digital transformation” in your job description.  And it is also possible, assuming your organization is sufficiently collaborative, that that you may not even need a CDxO to get started.  According to the Korn-Ferry study, psychographics of team members – leadership, vision, confidence, ambition, a desire to create breakthrough solutions – could be a strong determinant of success in digital transformation. 

The Korn-Ferry study found that “digital leaders” – who don’t necessarily come from the IT ranks –possess certain competencies, traits, and drivers the predispose them to transformation success.  These include:


  1. Thoughtfulness: understanding the business, making complex decisions, and creating the new and different approaches to business challenges
  2. Results-driven: taking initiative, managing execution, and focusing on performance
  3. People-oriented: building collaborative relationships, optimizing diverse talent, and influencing people
  4. Self-aware: being authentic, open, and flexible and adaptable


  1. Cultural dexterity: combining cultural knowledge, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills to achieve results in any cross-cultural context
  2. Learning agility: the ability to apply past lessons to new and first-time situations
  3. Emotional intelligence: reading and relating to others


  1. Challenge-driven: motivated by achievement in the face of tough obstacles
  2. Self-sufficient: able to work freely, autonomously, and with limited involvement from others
  3. Structured: prefers process-oriented, structured, and stable work environments
  4. Ambitious: motivated to seek influence, recognition, and increasing levels of responsibility

If you and your more visionary colleagues possess those kinds of skills and psychographics, you probably have what it takes to get your digital transformation underway right away. 

Strategies for Success

Having helped dozens of companies worldwide achieve their digital transformation goals – and offering the industry’s top-ranked decisioning platform to serve as their foundation, via our FICO Centralized Decisioning solution – FICO is a leader in helping companies successfully achieve their transformation. If you would like an excellent primer on how to get started, watch our recent education Webinar, “Taking Control of Your Digital Transformation” available at

Here are several non-intuitive recommendations we would offer based on our experience:

  1. Sell the vision, and get buy-in - First and foremost, create a compelling, convincing narrative about why transformation is necessary.  To the extent possible, customize the vision to the specific concerns of key stakeholder groups.  The goal should be to not only persuade colleagues that change is unavoidable, but beneficial to their interests.  Remember: effective transformation requires synergy between people, processes, and technology…. In that order.
  2. Think big but act small – It’s good to have a long-term, “Big Bang” vision to work towards, but… you will get the best results if you work incrementally; start with a single project, become proficient, and then reassess to decide what your next steps need to be from there.
  3. Slow down to speed up – Have a methodical, but flexible, rollout plan.  As you achieve milestones, determine if you want to 1) increase agility and begin scaling the solution across the organization, or 2) increase intelligence by drilling down deeper into more complex application depth.  Once you achieve those things, work to increase scope and precision.
  4. Search for synergy - Having to roll up your sleeves and do the job yourselves will force collaboration across the enterprise, foster the cross-pollination of ideas, and facilitate the mutual sharing, analysis, and assimilation of information.  Throughout the process, you and your colleagues will learn vast shared insights about your customers, and marvel at how much valuable information you already had… but didn’t realize, because it was squirreled away in silos across the org chart.  We are continually amazed at the revelations our customers find when they begin to leverage one another’s data, and the force-multiplier effect it brings.

Keep the “Transformentum” Going

Once the first phases of your digital transformation are showing results, keep the momentum going by building on your successes. Remember the People/ Process/ Technology triad, and always be selling the results back across the organization, while constantly looking for new and better opportunities for ROI:

  • Become hyper-relevant to your customers, and never stop seeking ways to make their customer journey smoother.  Become fluent in customer journey mapping and continually leverage validated data to anticipate customers’ immediate and future requirements; relentlessly look for ways to align the company’s product and services to customer needs… and present them to customers even before they are aware of their need for them. 
  • Optimize your business model to maintain a vigilant watch for changing customer expectations and market conditions; monitor what competitors are doing and glean hints for what customers want, what they may be willing to purchase, and the price they may be willing to pay. 
  • Maintain situational awareness of goals, personnel, and activities across your organization, in order to nimbly reallocate priorities, roles and responsibilities in accordance with changing market conditions. Incorporate agile process to facilitate follow-on transformation. Foster a culture of rewarding experimentation and continual, mutual learning.
  • Promote and reward synergy between people and processes, unified by a scalable common platform that works in concert across all products, services, and business lines.  This allows for the uninterrupted flow of real-time information required for successful transformation and business acceleration.

When it comes to digital transformation, I’ve never met anyone with the title “Person responsible for keeping us at the top of our industry for the next 50 years.”  But if you follow all these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to a successful transformation.  Don’t hesitate to contact FICO if we can be of assistance.  We have a long and successful track record – across many industries, around the world – helping companies reach and exceed their digital transformation goals.

For educational material on digital transformation and digital disruption, please visit  For information on digital transformation in the financial services industry, including detailed research and reports from Arizent and American Banker, please visit  For more information on the FICO Centralized Decision solution, please visit 

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