So, you have had the idea of shifting toward a digital business model for some time now. That’s great. Whether it’s been planted in your mind by your team, your competitors, or clients, going digital is no longer speculative like it was for most CEOs a few years ago. It has become a reality for many business leaders.
47% of CEOs are being challenged by the board of directors to make progress in digital business, and 56% have already reaped the rewards of an increase in profits as a result of implementing digital improvements.
Getting your CIO to handle the impending digital revolution may sound like the wise way to implement your company’s digitalisation, but there are a few things you have to be a part of for the process to be a sustainable success.
“Being a CEO is a tough job. You have many stakeholders, continuous challenges, and a wide range of things to think about. And the idea of the CEO as ‘boss’ no longer applies. Instead, the most effective CEOs will need to start thinking of themselves as digital leaders. It’s your job to push the organisation to stay focused, to experiment, to innovate, and to scale through standard platforms. These principles are fundamental to success in the disruptive years ahead.” – Josh Bershin, long-term strategy, Bersin by Deloitte.
Join the 42% of CEOs who have begun digital business transformation by applying the following:
1. Take your CIO’s lead
The answer to the question, ‘what is digital for us?’ may not come as easily as it could to your CIO. This is why CIOs should help CEOs set the success criteria for digital business.
“It’s time for CEOs to scale up their digital business ambition and let CIOs help them set and track incisive success metrics and KPIs, to better direct business transformation. CIOs should also help them toward more-abstract thinking about the nature of digital business and how to lead it,” says Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “The disruption it brings often cannot be dealt with wholly within existing frames of reference.”
Your CIO can help you understand what kind of digital growth your company should be seeking, what your number one metric is and identify what KPIs must change for desired growth to occur.
2. Be open to co-creation with customers
As a top level company staff member, you don’t have ground level contact with consumers, because you’re busy deciphering data and calculating numbers. While your role is vital, the customer should also be considered part of your team. It is, after all, the best way to discover and keep up with their evolving needs and preferences.
“CEOs usually engage with customers based on their revenue potential, and this is necessary for income generation. However, digital strategy and transformation requires visionary customers willing to innovate and co-create with you,” says Kumar Parakala, global digital leader at GHD.
The risk comes in if you rely on conformist customers too much. Though it’s avoidable, if you aren’t cognisant, you’ll be slowed down and at risk of encountering a major barrier for your success as a digital leader.
3. Create a clear roadmap
A brilliant transformation initiative needs the right strategy to help it work optimally once it’s applied. Creating a digital strategy in addition to your business strategy will help your company navigate the changing ground rules of business transformation and digital disruption. This is where visionaries in your leadership come in.
“CEOs must enlist new leaders who are willing to look at the customers inquisitively and are not focused on protecting the status quo. They should understand that very different leadership skills and styles are required to succeed in the digital era,” explains Parakala. “No strategy will work unless the business leaders facilitate the creation of right culture.”
A winning digital culture requires collaboration, intelligent risk-taking, continuous learning, an innovative mindset, lean and agile thinking and passionate customer-centricity. “I believe the right leadership and culture are the top two critical success factors for digital transformation, often ignored or forgotten because they fall into the ‘too hard basket’,” he says.
DID YOU KNOW?
An estimated 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail according to the IDC. The direct involvement of the CEO and senior business leaders can mitigate this risk, which needs to be taken to compete in the digital arena.
4. Embrace (rapid) experimentation
Thanks to the Internet, there’s now a more convenient, cheaper and simpler platform to facilitate innovation. Through rapid experimentation and continuous learning, it’s quicker to identify the right problem, test likely solutions, and learn from them leveraging emerging technologies.
“Compared to the traditional model, where innovation is focused on finished products, the new approach concentrates on identifying,” Parakala notes. “In the digital era, identifying the right problem to solve becomes an important aspect of innovation. Continuous innovation is a core capability of progressive firms.”
To harness and optimise the skill and ability to continually innovate, you need to engage, empower and reward people for their digital transformation efforts. Each role that brings the goal to fruition is bringing your team one step closer to not only joining the revolution, but possibly even leading it.
5. Expand the playing field
New digital ecosystems are constantly being created, thanks to the advent of the Internet and digital technologies. This means how your business competes with its counterparts is also evolving. You competition itself is changing, with the introduction of new ways to create products and render services.
How products and services are designed, developed and delivered is transforming as new entrants to the market can now solve the same client issues you’ve been encountering, using different business and operating models.
“They have disrupted a number of industries and CEOs must remain vigilant of these new, potentially disruptive trends and focus on establishing innovative partnerships,” adds Parakala.
Your role as CEO goes beyond overseeing decisions made by a team of experts you have hired to make the right choices. Being actively involved in your business’ digital transformation may be daunting at first, but the benefits of your role in the process are rewarding.