While ISO 38500 was developed to guide board oversight of Information Technology, it has a wealth of useful guidance for Digital transformation.

But first, the DLI has established two definitions that can help us put the standard into context for the Digital Era.

Digital Transformation:
An ongoing and long-term process of rapid and disruptive evolution in society, markets, business and government, enabled by innovative use of new digital technologies, which changes established orders of control, creates new perceptions of value and associated value propositions, and destroys many pre-existing notions.

Something of an eye-full, but the key components are readily discerned:

  • ongoing, rapid and disruptive change,
  • enabled by new digital technologies, and
  • shifts societal and cultural norms.
Digital Leadership:
The capability of business leaders to identify and realise opportunity for breakthrough business growth and value through effective, efficient and acceptable transformational use of IT.

You’ll note that there are no “IT leaders” in the definition. It is business leaders who must harness technology to deliver strategy.

So there are two options: find a CIO that can contribute to business strategy, or ensure line-of-business leaders are conversant with what technology can deliver, and how. Actually, both are needed for success.

Successful Digital transformation will require significant changes to people (capabilities, culture, responsibility), process, technology and organisation (structure) for most organisations. Success will be evasive unless the Board and entire executive is pulling together.

ISO 38500 (which is also an Australian and IEC standard) provides an excellent framework for ensuring all the bases are covered for a digital transformation.

The Evaluate, Direct and Monitor focus areas, when applied across business strategy and the means to deliver it, ensure that the Board is properly involved in navigating the business strategy through disruptive times; selecting the best technology to realise corporate strategy; making sure the rest of the organisation is clear on the path that is being taken; and assuring progress against the goal.

The six core principles for effective governance ensure that everything from clear delegation of responsibilities to human behaviour are taken into account.

While the framework is straightforward, most organisations need assistance in finding its optimum application – largely because adopting ISO 38500 requires adoption of a digital era mindset to the use of technology in forming, as well as delivering business strategy.

The DLI can provide assistance at all stages of technology-intensive transformation.

Members can access a full discussion of key factors and tools needed to support digital transformation in the detailed paper Interpreting AS/ISO/IEC 38500 to Support and Govern Digital Transformation.

ISO 38500 – a Standard to Guide Digital Transformation
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