What does a digital transformation manager really do?

With businesses chasing new digital capabilities, the demand for digital transformation managers is growing.
18 September 2018

What do digital transformation managers really do?Source: Shutterstock

America is currently looking for about 10,000 digital transformation managers and senior managers and offering to pay north of US$80,000 to the right candidate.

Look for the position on some of the popular job sites and you’ll find that most of these job openings are at top technology and consulting companies such as Microsoft, Deloitte, Capgemini, and Accenture, and all of them are mid and senior level openings.

Review a few of the job descriptions for digital transformation managers across the board and you’ll realize that companies aren’t looking for programmers, developers, or even computer science graduates when they recruit for this position.

Instead, they’re looking for leadership, communication, and management skills. Throw in some experience or a certificate in project management, and you’ll have the perfect candidate for the job. But what is the job? What does a digital transformation manager do?

Understanding the job

Digital transformation projects are usually long-term and require an investment of capital.

Whether it is the adoption of cloud, big data, analytics, AI, robotics, or some combination thereof, the project is bound to have far-reaching consequences and impact more than just one vertical or business function.

Experts in digital transformation, therefore, emphasize the importance of such projects being led by top management executives such as CEOs, CIOs, and CTOs.

However, these executives don’t usually have the time to manage these projects by themselves — especially as several digital transformation projects run simultaneously in large organizations. That’s where the digital transformation manager comes in.

Each digital transformation manager is the custodian of a particular digital transformation project in the organization. With the support of the business leader, these managers ensure that projects are executed as per plans put in place and any variations are flagged, discussed, and resolved appropriately.

Given the nature of the job, it’s easy to understand the absence of programming and development skills from the job description and the strict emphasis on proven management and leadership skills.

The value of the job

The digital transformation manager plays a key role in the organization’s digital transformation blueprint and is an important member of the team helping the company achieve its digital ambitions.

Here are some key areas where digital transformation managers add incredible value to an organization:

# 1 | Informing the C-suite

Digital transformation managers are the link between the people running the project and the C-suite. As a result, they’re tasked with communicating and informing the latter about progress and warning them about the challenges that the project faces.

# 2 | Training the team

Digital transformation, by definition, means new technologies and solutions will be implemented. As a result, the manager responsible for the project must ensure that there is plenty of support and training available to help existing staff adopt and use the new solutions deployed.

# 3 | Organization-wide communication

Communication is key, and digital transformation managers are always in the know when it comes to their project. As a result, they are responsible for communicating all relevant plans and any changes that are made, to everyone concerned.

# 4 | Transformation governance

Digital transformation projects are often cross-functional and impact different business verticals. As a result, managers need to make sure that new processes put in place are appropriate and don’t interrupt businesses functions.

# 5 | Business culture

The adoption of new technologies isn’t just a resource challenge but is also a culture challenge. It is, therefore, the job of a digital transformation manager to help existing employees accept the changes and learn and use the new solutions offered to them.