How CEOs Can Help Lead A Successful Digital Transformation
Is your CEO ready to lead a successful digital transformation?
Digital transformations don’t just happen once, and you are done. Successful digital transformations are a constant state of affairs for every business.
Today businesses must be digitally agile enough to adapt to and leverage the latest information technologies, digital platforms, and communication strategies to give them the best competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Companies that fail to innovate and compete in the digital age will find themselves irrelevant — being outclassed and outcompeted at every level in growing their business.
Digital innovation is the new normal.
Most businesses know this to be true.
- 80% of companies plan to accelerate their companies’ digital transformations.
- Organizations on the digital cutting edge can achieve earnings growth that is 1.8 times higher than their competitors who lag.
- Investor surveys indicate that half of all businesses invest more aggressively in technological innovations.
- Companies can expect to create 66% more value after a successful digital transformation.
- Companies invested $100 billion into digital transformation efforts between 2016 and 2018.
With digital transformation, the question that always rises to the top is:
Digital transformation is hard.
Every organization claims to prioritize digital transformation. But few succeed.
- Only one-third of digital transformation initiatives succeed.
- According to Forbes, up to 84% of digital transformations are considered to be failing.
- Unspoken disagreements amongst top managers were the number one reason for the failure of digital transformation strategies.
- To succeed, the organization must devote resources and capabilities towards supporting a pilot digital program and commit capabilities towards scaling it.
Digital Transformation Starts At The Top
In every organization, big changes need to start from the top. That’s not to say that grassroots, employee-led transformations aren’t possible. However, the reality is that executives, particularly C-suite executives, hold much of the decision-making power to institute broad-reaching institutional changes in the shortest amount of time.
Just look at what has happened in the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a statement by one Microsoft executive, over two years of digital transformation, or the adoption of digital tools and workflows such as remote working, is now occurring in the span of two months.
Digital communication platform vendor Twilio has calculated that the pandemic has moved up the average organization’s digital transformation timeline by about 6 years.
The evidence of this rapid acceleration of the adoption of digital tools and workflows can be seen everywhere, from the dramatic shift to remote working in many sectors to the quick rollout of touch-free digital payment systems.
The businesses that have not only survived this dramatic wave of digitization but thrived have been the companies and organizations that are led by CEOs, executives, and owners committed to robust and unwavering digital transformation strategies.
Businesses such as Amazon and Google, who have pursued aggressive digital transformation strategies, were best able to adjust their organizational operations and position themselves to snap up market share when other companies were reeling from the pandemic.
But it wasn’t just the big tech companies that actually came out ahead due to COVID-19. Small businesses and restaurants that had invested in digital infrastructure before COVID-19, such as e-commerce and online ordering, also thrived as their less well-positioned competitors floundered or shut their doors.
Meanwhile, enterprises that may have been late to transform but were able to pivot quickly as the pandemic hit have been able to at least survive and are now ready to capture the potential upsides of a rapid economic recovery.
A successful digital transformation requires strong executive leadership, foresight, and top-down planning. However, the need for digital transformation and strong executive leadership hasn’t ended with the slowing spread of COVID-19. In fact, the virus has only sped up a trend that was already accelerating.
The need for CEOs who know how to help their organizations lead successful digital transformations is as important now as ever before.
5 Ways A CEO Can Help Lead A Successful Digital Transformation
1. Share the vision for how you will use digital technology in the future.
The dramatic acceleration of tech-led innovation and integrating information technology into every aspect of business and work means that CEOs themselves must now also have a strong vision for how technology will be used and implemented in their organizations.
Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Cisco’s Chuck Robbins were selected for their CEO roles, despite the presence of more senior candidates partially due to their tech-focused leadership.
2. Build domain knowledge
Organizational change can’t happen without a CEO who has an in-depth understanding of how the latest technologies work or will affect their companies and the industries and markets they operate.
A CEO with the requisite domain knowledge necessary for digital transformation will be better able to align managers, functional areas, and workgroups around a clear digital strategy.
3. Surround yourself with the right team.
The role of the CEO comes with many important roles and responsibilities outside of the realm of technology. It may simply be impossible for a CEO alone to remain on the cutting edge of technological innovation.
To lead a successful digital transformation, CEOs must find the right talent and put them in positions to enact change.
Look for people with the expertise you need to execute your digital strategies and actively create a seat at the table to make their voices heard.
A good place to start is with Managed IT Services.
4. Be prepared to make hard decisions.
Change is difficult.
As an executive tasked with guiding a company into the future, your role as CEO may entail making some tough decisions that may include reshuffling the corporate structure to put the right people in the right places to make the needed change and adoption.
5. Measure your success correctly.
When it comes to leading a successful digital transformation push, one of the most important things a CEO must know is how to measure progress.
Most corporate boards will make it a point to ask how the digital transformation process is going. That’s why it is important to design a roadmap with clear milestones before embarking on a digital transformation journey.
Another way to qualitatively gauge relative progress is to measure so-called threshold behaviors. Threshold behaviors can be great indicators and calibrators of progress.
For example, one important threshold behavior to measure is whether executives and managers respect and protect the digital transformation budget or diverting funds and resources towards other projects and initiatives. You can measure progress, or the lack thereof, by periodically surveying staff behavior.
I spend much of my time with business owners and leaders, helping address digital transformation and business growth. If you would like to discuss further how I might be able to help your business, email or call and let’s set up a call.