Coca Cola’s Leadership Re-Shuffle Proves Digitization Needs a Powerful CIO

On 23rd March, 2017, when The Coca Cola Company announced re-shuffle of its senior leadership, it turned out to be strategic in more ways than one. The re-shuffle says a lot about how digitization is going to drive the future growth for companies and how that will lead to management teams re-strategizing their corporate IT.

Among the various senior leadership announcements, one of particular interest is the company elevating the IT function to directly report to the CEO. The move leading to Barry Simpson, VP and CIO, Coca Cola reporting directly to the CEO comes in wake of digitization being identified as a key growth enabler for the company. According to a press release issued by the company, this move is directed to “increase visibility and focus on efforts to digitize all aspects of the company’s business”.

Here are some of the key takeaways from this announcement.

  • Organizations will need to recognize digital as the centerpiece of their future growth strategy. Sooner they come to this acceptance and start designing their digital roadmap the better prepared they will be to transform themselves into a customer centric organization.
  • Any enterprise wide digitization mandate will need to be accompanied with building effective leadership to steer it in the right direction and ensure its successful implementation. Whether it’s the CIO or the CDO mandated with the digital transformation agenda, they need to be empowered to lead from the front, including having a seat in the boardroom.
  • Having a seat at the table comes with its pressure of added responsibilities. As business functions come to look upon IT as the ‘go to’ partner for driving faster growth and responding to fast-changing customer demands, there is even greater onus on the CIO to partake of the business discourse and align IT to business to start contributing to the top line and bottom line.

Going forward, the focus on digitization will force any growth oriented and customer centric organization to re-structure itself, positioning IT as the locus. For then, examples such as Coca Cola will become the norm rather than the exception.

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