Sounds like a threat doesn’t it. Well, maybe to some it is. But to those who see that statement as an opportunity please read on.

It is a well-documented fact that organisations that are more digitally mature are more productive and profitable, and are generally leaders of a happy and tight knit crew.

If you don’t believe me, the Cap Gemini and MIT Sloan partnership spearhead Digital Transformation across enterprise and provide a wealth of research, case studies and opinion around the benefits and importance of digital transformation. On top of this, Ernst & Young conducted an interesting study in Brisbane looking at the digital maturity of businesses within the city. Meanwhile, closer to home, Econsultancy extols the need for businesses to become more digital and provide comprehensive data for marketing led professionals in a digital world.

And then there is the likes of Socitm (society for IT managers), a membership organisation primarily focused on supporting Local Government IT Managers but driving the move of digital equals IT change to digital equals business change.

Although these organisations may each have a different focus, there is a common thread when it comes to Digital Transformation: Leadership from the top is the number one success factor to gaining business advantage in a digital world.

Throughout history great leaders have always possessed the same core traits, and these skills are equally applicable in a digital world:

  • Vision
  • Knowledge
  • Mindset
  • Passion

Keeping pace with digital change

Digital is vast. It has redefined IT, Sales & Marketing, Customer Service and Operations; every area of the business and every industry sector has been changed forever. Why? Because the demands of the customer and the employee are rising at a pace faster than most businesses are adapting to these cope with these changing needs. This pace and the fundamental “access all areas” shift that digital has created has also generated a melting pot for new and disruptive competitors into sometimes hugely monopolised verticals. If you want to find out more, pick up a copy of James McQuivey’s Digital Disruption.

The bottom line is clear for all CEO’s and business leaders. To be a leader in a digital world you need to:

  • Really commit to digital
  • Be prepared to go back to school – build up your knowledge and understanding of digital and the opportunities it can bring to your organisation
  • Adopt a mindset that focuses on finding the right pace that matches your customers
  • Keep pace with your customers (that’s digital maturity)
  • Don’t delegate your vision; own the vision and empower the organisation to implement it

When something comes along that fundamentally changes the way we do business across the globe, we still see a struggle to take hold of both the challenge and the opportunity. All too often this results in a failure to use it to our advantage.

As far as digital is concerned, we still have a long way yet to go.

Christopher Columbus went out in a ship and realised the world was round. Similarly, businesses need to realise digital is pervasive, it has no edges. It has changed things forever because it’s shown us that what was once thought to be the throne of power has flipped. The customer drives the pace of business now. Customer Experience is a business-wide priority and Digital neither resides within the siloes of IT or Marketing. In fact, digital is not owned, digital just is.

Seize the moment

If you are a CEO, I hope you have already actively embraced digital and matured beyond allowing it to live in those siloes. I hope you have seized the moment, and that you are learning and awakening an almost youthful passion for experimentation and change. I hope, also, that you are beginning to experience and realise that honest and open communication is reciprocated tenfold in sales and advocacy.

On the other hand you might be about to head into a meeting to assess the business Quartile results thus far, only to realise sales are down, morale has not recovered from the Year End and that the board wants answers… If so, commit to digital! Think not about what how you are currently performing. Think about how you are currently losing out because you haven’t already started to drive change in a way that is transformational; your opportunity to really increase market share, enter new markets and gain competitive edge. We need a call to arms. Those of you who have taken onboard the role of a true leader, I encourage you to share your stories, to seek other peers and help them make the move.

I would have refrained from posting something like this a few months ago, but my job is to look at the changing markets driven largely by digital. Digital Transformation is no buzzword, but a call for all leaders to ensure they are aware and actively addressing the transition required to stay in the game.

Sources: Cap Gemini Consulting, MIT Sloan, Ernst & Young, Socitm, Econsultancy, James McQuivley