Digital Leaders Blog

digital leadership (17)

The concept of Digital Operating Advantage is one of the key issues discussed during our ‘Leading Digital’ Masterclasses.

It refers to the way in which organisations can leverage the full potential of emerging technologies to streamline internal processes and systems, improve efficiency, reduce costs, building a more collaborative, cost efficient, agile, responsive, data driven organisation, ‘fit-for-purpose’ in a digital age.

The successful deployment of an Enterprise Social Media (ESM) platform is critical in this respect as highlighted in the video below.


The key term above is ‘successful deployment’. While ESM platforms have been adopted by many organisations as the cornerstone of their internal digital transformation, new research published in the MITSloan Management Review suggests that expected benefits in terms of knowledge sharing, collaboration and efficiency are seldom realised. The main reason for this is poor ESM implementation.

Key conclusions of the research are as follows:

  • Employees often ‘get lost’ during the implementation of ESM platforms because of the disconnect between technology and the cultural change required to leverage the full potential of these platforms.
  • ESM is too often introduced into workplaces as a siloed system. A more strategic approach is required with ESM becoming a core component of an organisation’s digital portfolio, fully integrated with and supportive of employees’ daily work.
  • Too often, ESM is added to an already tangled web of technologies meant to support communication and collaboration. The net outcome is that fewer than 30% of employees and only 8% of executives contribute to ESM on a regular basis.
  • As more organisations become attracted to the benefits of digital workplaces, IT departments are asked to equip employees with a rich and integrated digital portfolio including team collaboration software, project management tools, chat-based software, internal knowledge management systems, intranets and so on. However, in most cases, there is a failure to articulate and communicate to employees how they are expected to use these tools in their day-to-day, job-related tasks.
  • The failure to articulate and communicate runs the risk of employees becoming lost in the transition to a more social, collaborative way of working. Connecting to ESM platforms often requires employees to disconnect from existing patterns of communication and collaboration such as email. This is not easy to achieve and can create resistance to change unless managed properly. Weaning people away from their email comfort blanket is no easy task.
  • To increase adoption and improve efficiency, ESM should be established as the hub connecting multiple IT systems, business applications, collaborative tools and other digital platforms. With proper integration, using APIs, employees should be able to access all digital platforms such as the corporate intranet, email, directories, document-sharing tools, forums, blogs, wikis and third-party web applications seamlessly from the ESM platform. Most ESM platforms such as Salesforce Chatter, Microsoft Yammer and Teams, Facebook Workplace etc offer open APIs that enable interoperability between ESM and other information technologies.

In conclusion, the MITSloan research supports our own contention that successful digital transformation is not just about technology – it requires the effective integration of strategy, people, processes, systems, organisation, culture AND technology.

The failure to recognise these mutual dependencies is one of the main reasons why many attempted transformations will fail. The successful implementation of Enterprise Social Media within your own organisation is a cultural as well as a technology challenge.

Read the full article here.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

Take care.

Jim H

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Digital Nation Round Table

I have been invited to participate in a Scottish Business Insider/BT Digital Nation Round Table this coming Friday, being held at the University of Strathclyde's new Technology Innovation Centre (TIC). 

A number of challenging questions have been presented to provide focus to the discussion.

Friends and colleagues will know that I have strong views on most of the issues listed below which I will be expressing on the day.

I would be interested in your own thoughts and comments which I will be happy to communicate to the group.

If you would like to comment, please do so on Linkedin at Digital Nation Round Table.

  • Is Scotland's digital ambition/strategy ambitious enough? What can we learn from other small countries?
  • How can we keep pace with digital disruption in the economy?
  • Is the focus too narrow, does a digital agenda need to be driven out across the policy spectrum?
  • What should digital transformation in the public sector look like?
  • Are national targets required and what metrics can be used to measure progress?
  • Is it deliverable? What are the barriers and how can they be overcome?
  • What cultural shift or behavioural change is needed to bring about the scale of reform needed?
  • How do we instil trust with the public at large on how the public sector manages cyber resilience and the use of personal data?
  • Is the pace of change fast enough? How do we ensure no one is left behind?

An edited transcript of the Round Table will appear in the March/April issue of Insider.

Thanks and take care.

ps - my own thoughts on the questions listed above have been expressed in a number of previous blog posts - please see

Jim H


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By the end of this year, we will have made our own small contribution to the digital transformation agenda having delivered our Digital Leadership Masterclasses in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Iceland, Italy, Malta (Digital Leadership for Tourism), Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Registration for our forthcoming Edinburgh programme, in association with the University of Edinburgh Business School, is now open.

Using the very practical tools and templates contained in our Digital Business Transformation Toolkit’, the two-day bootcamp will disseminate best practice strategic and practical advice in becoming a Future Digital Leader. The programme will equip participants with the knowledge and practical skills required for developing, implementing and proactively managing a successful Digital Transformation Strategy for their own organisation, or organisation of their own choice.

On completion of the programme, and utilising the diagnostic tools and templates contained in the ‘Digital Business Transformation Toolkit’, participants will have acquired the knowledge and practical skills to:

  • Undertake a digital disruption landscape analysis for their organisation; the opportunities and threats presented.
  • Set up a digital and social media listening system.
  • Develop an agreed Digital Strategy for their organisation.
  • Agree the core business objectives, goals and targets to be achieved.
  • Identify the key digital initiatives to be implemented and an ‘Action Plan’ for getting there.
  • Agree the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), metrics and analytics to be used in measuring digital performance, business impact and ROI.
  • Ensure that all key success factors have been considered, including the organisational, people and cultural barriers to digital change.
  • Establish your personal brand as a Future Digital Leader.

Full details and registration can be found here.

Alternatively, if you would appreciate an informal chat about the programme prior to registering, please drop me a quick note here and i will get back to you within a few days.

To ensure a high level of two-way engagement, we normally restrict numbers attending our Digital Leadership Masterclasses to around 15. It is very likely, therefore, that places on the programme will go very quickly so early expressions of interest in attending are recommended. 

Take care.

Jim H

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Fit for Digital

A new report by Fujitsu, entitled Fit for Digital, has concluded that digital disruption is the new normal, and will fundamentally redefine the way organisations operate.

Across every industry, boundaries are being torn down as hyper-connected technology redefines the limits of what is possible.

‘From creating richer, more rewarding customer relationships to honing razor sharp processes and operations, digital technology is giving organisations the power to reimagine what they can do and what they can be’.

Based on the views of 1,180 C-Suite decision-makers around the world, the report arrived at four main conclusions:

Digital disruption is here to stay

Disruption is the new normal. Revenue streams, processes, customer relationships: all have been transformed by digital disruption. And while business leaders are enthusiastic about the opportunities that digital is creating, many have concerns for the future - a future in which they see continued upheaval.

Technology is at the heart of the battle

The boardroom agenda is now digital. Leveraging the full potential of new technology is the best way to thrive in a digitally disrupted world.

Evolution is key

Customers are demanding digital. Business leaders are fully aware of the consequences of failing to meet that demand. As the pace of change accelerates, so does the competition. The only way to thrive in this hyper-speed environment is to evolve.

Organisations need strategic support to succeed

Despite the challenges posed by digital disruption, business leaders are highly confident that their organisation can survive. Few, however, believe that they can do it alone. Digital disruption is fuelling a desire to work with expert technology partners, not just to provide guidance, but to collaboratively create digital strategies.

You can download a full copy of the report here – Fit for Digital

Take care.

Jim H

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In preparation for the MBA Digital Leadership workshops in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, the following links will be useful.


How Digital Disrupts Operations, Business Processes and Customer Experiences

Worldwide Spend on Digital Transformation Technologies to Reach $1.2 Trillion in 2017; $2 Trillion by 2020

The Utility Industry: Top Ten Transformation Technologies (Infographic)

Which Countries are Leading Digital?

Teaching Digital Leadership to the Digital Leaders

Digital Leadership and Performance

Digital Leaders Outperform Digital Laggards

The Case for Digital Reinvention

What the Companies on the Right Side of the Digital Business Divide Have in Common

Digital Leadership

Two Years On, Who’s Leading Digital? Probably Not Your Board

Business Leaders Are Losing Ground In 'Digital IQ,' New PwC Study Finds

Three Meaningful Strategies for Managing Rapid Change

Enabling Transformation: Technology AND Organisation are Key

Redefining Leadership for a Digital Age: The Four 'Must Have' Competencies of Successful Digital Leaders

The Next Generation Operating Model for the Digital World

How to Start Building your Next Generation Operating Model

Keeping Transformations on Target

Building a More Intelligent Enterprise

Business Transformation Starts with Leadership Transformation


Data Analytics and the Future of North Sea Oil Part 1

Data Analytics and the Future of North Sea Oil Part 2 Power BI

Do Oil and Gas Boardrooms Lack Digital Focus?

I look forward to meeting everyone.

Take care.

Jim H

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The Case for Digital Reinvention

A new report from McKinsey provides further evidence of a strong positive correlation between digital maturity and subsequent financial performance.

In an era of rapid digital change and digital disruption, the report concludes that “bold, tightly integrated digital strategies will be the biggest differentiator between companies that win and companies that don’t”. The biggest payouts will go to companies that initiate digital disruptions.

Fast-followers with operational excellence and superior organisational health won’t be far behind.

Based on detailed research, the report lists the distinguishing characteristics of ‘digital winners’.

Please visit the Bridgeall blog for a more detailed summary of the main research findings together with links to the full report.

As always, comment and feedback are most welcome.

Jim H

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According to Didier Bonnet, one of the main authors of the highly acclaimed 'Leading Digital' book published two years ago, most large companies are struggling to successfully implement digital transformation with the majority of boards having a long way to go before they are mastering the digital challenge .

In a recent interview, Bonnet made the following observations covering the two year period since publication of the book:

  • CEOs and their teams are now much more aware of the impact of digital technology on their businesses. Many are investing heavily in digital capabilities, hiring new digital talent, such as Chief Digital Officers, to lead digital transformation.
  • While CDOs can be a useful catalyst and accelerator of digital transformation, they are not a sure recipe for success. It is critical to have a strong transformational leader at the top of the organisation to drive digital change.
  • Board evolution for the digital era has been very slow. Almost 80 per cent of company directors state that they are not satisfied that their boards have the sufficient digital proficiency to anticipate the competitive technological threats and opportunities for their firms. Less than 20 per cent of Fortune 500 companies feel fully equipped to deal with the technological challenge. Boards require 'transformational digital talent' - people who fully understand the power of new technologies but also the complexity of using these technologies for business impact in large complex organisations.
  • The challenge for many large firms is not so much where to put the investment (The What) but more on how they adapt their organisations to gain competitive positions (The How). 
  • Asked what had surprised him most over the last two years since publication of the book, Bonnet answered the lack of urgency around investing in digital skills. A 2013 study on ‘The Digital Talent Gap’ showed that over 90 per cent of companies lacked major digital skills to successfully execute their digital strategies. It is doubtful if this figure has moved by more than a few percentage points in the last two years. Everyone is aware of the problem, but very few are tackling it in any meaningful way.

“I firmly believe that, with the increasing digital divide happening within firms, the threat of technological unemployment becoming more and more visible and the competitive pressures to accelerate digital transformation, this is an under-resourced area and it’s moving too slowly.”

The full interview can be accessed here.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

Jim H

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Ok I know that leadership cannot be ‘taught’, but this Spring I will be 'facilitating' Digital Leadership programmes in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Edinburgh, Glasgow and online in virtual learning land.

With over 30 different nationalities participating across the various locations, it is critical that a global perspective is adopted.

So what progress have different countries around the world made in transforming digitally?

The Most Tech-Savvy Governments

Two of the destinations being visited, the UAE and Bahrain, are listed in the top three countries worldwide in terms of having the ‘most tech-savvy’ governments, according to the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (see here for a short summary).

In pole position is Singapore, a country I have long admired since my many visits there between 1993 and 1996 as Academic Direct of the Strathclyde Business School Masters in International Marketing programme delivered on a Distance Learning basis. Course management and administration was delivered through a combination of fax, telephone and courier delivery of course material. If only we had ubiquitous Internet access then :-)

The UK sits in tenth position lower than countries such as Qatar, Malaysia, Estonia and others.

Figure 1: Most Tech-Savvy Governments

With recent announcements over the last week or so, it is almost certain that Singapore and the UAE will retain their digital leadership positions for the foreseeable future.

Singapore puts 2017 budget focus on digital transformation - Government sets aside S$2.4 billion over four years to execute a nationwide plan to "transform" the local economy and help enterprises "go digital".

Sheikh Mohammed directs government departments to place Dubai 10 years ahead of all other cities with launch of the 10X vision. "All Government entities to embrace out-of-the-box, future oriented exponential thinking with the aim of being 10 years ahead of all other cities in embracing disruptive innovation".

 Harnessing Digital

While it looks as if I may be “teaching” digital leadership to those who are already leading digital, at least as far as the government sector is concerned, a different picture emerges for the economy as a whole.

The countries best harnessing the full potential of digital technology according to WEF are listed below. Dubai and Bahrain are ranked only in 26th and 28th positon respectively. Singapore retains its No.1 spot.

Figure 2: Top 10 Countries Harnessing Digital Technology

As a measure of how well an economy is using information and communications technologies to boost competitiveness and well-being, it will be very interesting to watch the position of Dubai, in particular, over the next few years.

In a previous blog post, we showed how Dubai is rapidly emerging as a world class digital nation. Key milestones over the last five years have included:

  • 2011 - introduction of e-payment cards for government services
  • 2011 - e-voting introduced
  • 2013 - all government services to be available through mobile devices and apps
  • 2013 - Smart Government launched – aim to become the world’s smartest city
  • 2014 - Happiness Index launched to measure the happiness and satisfaction of the public with digital public services – aim to be the world’s happiest city
  • Feb 2016 - 1,000 new digital initiatives launched to embrace the Internet of Things
  • May 2016 - world’s first 3D printed office block opened - vision of being a world leader in 3D printing technology
  • April 2016 - 25% of all transportation in Dubai to be smart and driverless by 2030
  • October 2016 - Dubai mandates Blockchain only Government documents by 2020
  • May 2016 - Dubai government services score 89% on the Happiness Index
  • Nov 2016 – become a world leader in Industry 4.0

Add to this, the 10X initiative mentioned above.

The UK/Scotland

In the UK/Scotland, we like to think of ourselves as being a world class digital nation. For example, the preamble to this month’s launch of the UK Government’s Transformation Strategy stated:

“The UK Government is one of the most digitally advanced in the world…….The Government Digital Service (GDS) has led the digital transformation of government and is a model that is being copied internationally”.

The evidence presented above would suggest that while good progress has been made, we are far from being a world class digital nation. It is too early to engage in such happy back-slapping.

There is growing evidence that the UK is falling behind many of our international competitors in several key measures of digital readiness such as connectivity, digital skills and the integration of digital technology – see the EU 2016 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). While the UK score remains above the EU average, it is growing more slowly than the average. Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland are leading the way, while Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Malta, Austria and Portugal are the fastest growing.

An earlier 2015 study published in the Harvard Business Review arrived at a similar conclusion - Where the Digital Economy Is Moving the Fastest.

The study identified four main types of country in terms of digital capacity:

  • Stand Out countries with high levels of digital development in the past and who continue to remain on an upward trajectory.
  • Stall Out countries who have achieved a high level of evolution in the past but are losing momentum and risk falling behind.
  • Break Out countries with the potential to develop strong digital economies. Though their overall score is still low, they are moving upward and are poised to become Stand Out countries in the future.
  • Watch Out countries who face significant opportunities and challenges, with low scores on both current level and upward motion of their Digital Evolution Index. Some may be able to overcome limitations with clever innovations and stopgap measures, while others seem to be stuck.

 Figure 3: The Digital Evolution Index

In the UK, there is a real danger that our growing obsession with BITs (Brexit, Immigration and Trump) rather than Bytes will drive the UK into a digital ‘Stall Out’ – see our previous blog post Don’t Let Brexit Relegate Digital to Side Show Status.

One of the main conclusions of the Harvard paper is highly relevant here:

“Most Western and Northern European countries, Australia, and Japan have been Stalling Out. The only way they can jump-start their recovery is to follow what Stand Out countries do best: redouble on innovation and continue to seek markets beyond domestic borders. Stall Out countries are also aging. Attracting talented, young immigrants can help revive innovation quickly”.

Unfortunately, we are going completely in the opposite direction.

Food for thought?

All comments and feedback welcome.

Take care.

Jim H

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As Scotland procrastinates in developing an updated Digital Strategy, the UAE has set itself a target of being a world leader in adopting Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies.

A six-pillar plan launched by the UAE Government, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF), seeks to transform the Fourth Industrial Revolution into a global movement spearheaded by the UAE.

The vision is for the UAE to become the first country in the world to experiment with and implement the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, creating new markets for them.

The new strategy builds on previous government initiatives promoting other disruptive technologies such as the blockchain, smart transportation, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence.

You can read more here.

There can be little doubt that Dubai is rapidly emerging as a world class digital nation. Key milestones over the last five years have included:

  • 2011 - introduction of e-payment cards for government services
  • 2011 - e-voting introduced
  • 2013 - all government services to be available through mobile devices and apps
  • 2013 - Smart Government launched – aim to become the worlds smartest city
  • 2014 - Happiness Index launched to measure the happiness and satisfaction of the public with digital public services – aim to be the world’s happiest city
  • Feb 2016 - 1,000 new digital initiatives launched to embrace the Internet of Things
  • May 2016 - world’s first 3D printed office block opened - vision of being a world leader in 3D printing technology
  • April 2016 - 25% of all transportation in Dubai to be smart and driverless by 2030
  • October 2016 - Dubai mandates Blockchain only Government documents by 2020
  • May 2016 - Dubai government services score 89% on the Happiness Index

It seems to me that while many 'talk the talk' in terms of being a world class digital nation, Dubai and the UAE 'walk the walk'.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

Take care.

Jim H 

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Five key propositions emerge from the growing volume of publications on digital disruption and digital transformation.

1. In an era of pervasive digital change, no industry, no organisation, no individual is immune from the threat of being disrupted. Our FSB Digital Disruption Report from December 2015 listed a broad range of sectors under threat. The question is no longer whether your industry will be affected.  The only pertinent questions to ask now are how severe will the impact be (‘bang’) and over what time scale will this take place (‘fuse’) - see our previous post Will Your Industry Be Disrupted, also the Deloitte report entitled Short Fuse: Big Bang.

2. Most organisations remain woefully ill-prepared for the coming digital tsunami. The pace of digital change is taking place at a much faster rate than our ability to adapt. Various reports have warned of a growing ‘strategic gap’ between the digital progress being made by most organisations and where they should be to remain competitive. The challenge is not just a technology one. A wide range of internal barriers need to be overcome before successful digital transformation can take place - especially organisational, people and cultural barriers.

3. There is a growing need for a new breed of senior executive - Digital Business Leaders. Senior executives who can combine high level business knowledge, experience and understanding with the ability to develop digital transformation strategies fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives. Executives with the personal skills and confidence to drive organisational change. Almost every report on digital disruption published over the last three years has pointed to the lack of digital leadership and skills being major barriers to change.

4. The days of the business leader who knows nothing about technology (often proudly claiming that they know nothing about it) are numbered. In an era of rapid digital change and digital disruption, how can anyone claim to be ‘leading’ without understanding how technology is impacting on their industry, their organisation? Is it time to call time on non-digital leaders unwilling to adapt.

5. The growing need for Digital Business Leaders raises important implications for our education, skills development and executive education systems. While there is a growing recognition of the need for digital transformation, current industry leaders (with a few exceptions) lack the digital knowledge, understanding and confidence to drive change. Younger managers (digital natives) may have the technology skills and confidence required but lack the high level strategic understanding of how to fully align digital technology to support core business goals. Technologists, CIOs and others may be very good at what they do but may lack the leadership skills to drive change.

The core challenge facing all of our organisations is this - how do we prepare future leaders for the twin demands of management and digital technology?

Does our management development and education system require a complete reboot?

As always, feedback and comments are very welcome.

Dr Jim Hamill

Full details of our next Digital Leaders Masterclass in association with the University of Edinburgh Business School can be found here. You can register an interest in attending here.


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We are delighted to announce the launch of our Digital Leadership Masterclass in partnership with the University of Edinburgh Business School Executive Education Programme.

The two-day session takes place on the 13th and 14th of October.

Full details can be found here.

At this stage, we are taking registrations of interest in attending. All we need is your name, email address and contact telephone number. I will then arrange a convenient time to contact you to discuss your specific requirements, ensuring that programme content is relevant and customised to your own needs.

You can register an interest in attending here.

The changes brought about by the Internet over the last twenty years are nothing compared to what is coming over the next few years. No industry, no organisation is immune from the threat of digital disruption. With labour markets being transformed by artificial intelligence and automation, no individual is immune. A new breed of senior executive is required to drive digital transformation - Digital Business Leaders.

Is your organisation ready for digital change?

Are you ready?

The Masterclass will include a ‘Digital Leaders Forum’ during which several industry experts will present and discuss their real time experiences of implementing successful digital transformation strategies. Speakers will come from a range of different industries, including public and private sector organisations.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the Digital Leaders Masterclass or any of the Executive Education Programmes at UoE Business School.

You can download an Executive Education Programme brochure here.

Take care.

Jim H


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Our recent FSB Report concluded that no industry, no organisation is immune from the threat of digital disruption. The only pertinent questions to ask now are how severe will the impact be and the timescale over which this will occur? With various estimates suggesting that over 40 percent of jobs could be replaced by digital technology over the next two decades, no individual is immune.

A model developed by Deloitte Australia entitled ‘Short Fuse, Big Bang’ presents a useful framework for evaluating the extent to which different industries will be disrupted by digital technology (the ‘bang’) and the time period over which these disruptions would start to have a real impact (the ‘fuse’).

Four broad industry categories were identified:

  • Short fuse, big bang: Industries with less than three years to adapt and transform themselves or face watching up to 50% of their business perish.
  • Short fuse, small bang: Industries with a lot less to lose in the way of digital disruption, but there is still a limited window in which they can act to mitigate potential damage.
  • Long fuse, big bang: Industries that will experience profound change over time, losing a lot if they don’t metamorphosis.
  • Long fuse, small bang: Industries with the least potential for digital disruption.

Where does your industry/organisation sit on this spectrum? Are you operating in a ‘short fuse, big bang’ sector with less than three years to adapt and transform? How close are you to the Digital Vortex, the inevitable movement of industries toward a ‘digital centre’ in which business models, offerings, and value chains are digitized to the maximum extent possible?

The first step in answering these questions, and the foundation for developing a successful digital transformation strategy, is to undertake a Digital Landscape Analysis.

Digital Landscape Analysis*

The overall aim is to evaluate the current and future state of digital disruption in your industry, the key technologies involved, emerging opportunities & threats and likely impact on your own organisation.

Five key issues should be addressed:

  • Draw up a list of the disruptive changes and technologies likely to impact on your industry now and in the future. Your list should include most of the following: Social Media; Enterprise Social; the Cloud; Big Data; the Internet of Customers; the Internet of Things; Wearable Technology; Intelligent Machines/Automation; the Blockchain; others as appropriate.
  • What impact will each of the above have on your industry and over what time period? How will industry dynamics change? Summarise the key threats and opportunities?
  • What impact will disruptive change and technologies have on your own organisation? Evaluate the extent to which your organisation needs to transform digitally, using emerging digital technologies to rethink and improve the way you do things in at least three main areas: ‘Externally’ - the use of digital to support sales, marketing, PR, customer engagement, customer service etc; ‘Internally’ - the use of digital to support internal communications, business processes and systems, becoming an agile, flexible, fast moving ‘social organisation’; 'Business Model'- the extent to which digital threatens your underlying business model. 
  • How are similar organisations in your industry responding? How are your main competitors responding?
  • Who is ‘leading digital’ in your industry? Who are the exemplars of ‘best practice’?

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

* Footnote: The approach to undertaking a Digital Landscape Analysis outlined above is a short extract from our more comprehensive ‘Digital Transformation Toolkit’ - providing organisations with an agreed road map supporting their own digital transformation journey. This will be presented in more detail during our Digital Leaders Bootcamp taking place on the 13/14th October, 2016 in association with the University of Edinburgh Business School.  Please register your interest in attending here. I will then contact you to discuss in more detail.

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Genuine Digital Leaders Hard To Find

I have just read a very hard hitting article by Ben Rossi on Information Age entitled ‘Why these people need to be kept away from digital transformations’.

The article issues a strong warning about the growing power of Digital Emperors defined as ‘those in the public and private sectors who are exploiting the digital wave for all its worth in spite of having no real domain knowledge, leadership capabilities or strategic vision’. The list includes politicians, civil servants, corporate execs, trade show promoters (but not Scot-Tech in my view, these guys ‘get it’),digital start-ups and venture capitalists.

The reality, according to the author is quite different:

‘Most are complete phonies or digital posers, and all suffer from a common challenge: they are digital emperors without any clothes. Genuine digital leadership is hard to find these days in any sector, but those who believe that either by title or remit that they are true leaders can be found either at every trade show or digital event (TED, SXSW, etc.) espousing their well-rehearsed opinions on all things digital.’

Ben argues that very few of these Digital Emperors have anything of substance to say or actual accomplishments (other than spending billions on transformation projects and getting little in return). Nonetheless, 'they all seem to have a cult-like following of sycophants and others who fawn over everything they promise, say or do.’

Digital Emperors are frequently found in the public sector.

‘Across the globe there are major programmes in virtually every government to digitally transform services and capabilities provided internally and to their citizens. Many of these programmes portend to transform governments themselves using what I refer to as ‘digital transformation by magic’, a common thought process where a digital emperor can simply undo the past and, armed with a great PowerPoint and some funding, they can create a new digital future for everyone overnight. In reality, it turns out to be more of a digital love fest where everyone spends their time in endless self-promotion and glory seeking while the group squanders countless fortunes on technology that users want nothing to do with at the end of the journey.'

Ben concludes that transformation is hard and not for the weak of heart. Successful digital transformation is yet to be realised anywhere. Leaving transformation to the fatuous behaviour of digital emperors is clearly a formula for disaster.


You can access the full article here.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

Jim H

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I am delighted to have been asked to offer a new Digital Strategy elective module on the University of Edinburgh MBA Programme.

A taster session, entitled 'Digital Darwinism: How to Avoid Becoming a Digital Dinosaur', will be delivered as a Mini Masterclass on Tuesday 1st December starting at 6pm - as part of the Open Evening for the Executive MBA.

The session will examine how a convergence of disruptive technologies (mobile connectivity, social media, enterprise social, the cloud, big data, Internet of Things, artificial intelligent, automation), combined with the rapid emergence of a new generation of constantly connected customers/employees (Gen C), is threatening to reshape markets faster than any force in history.

In a fast moving and highly interactive session, we will discuss how as organisations, and individuals, we need to #adaptordie. How we can best cope with Digital Darwinism - a phenomenon when technology and society evolve faster than our ability to adapt. Why building your own personal brand online has become critical to your career development and how to do it.

With some studies suggesting that 40 percent of jobs could disappear over the next decade or so as a consequence of rapid technology change, no industry, no company, no individual is immune from the threat of being digitally disrupted. 

We are close to full capacity for the event so if you would like to attend please register as soon as you can - here.

While being part of an Open Evening for the University of Edinburgh MBA Programme, the Mini Masterclass is open to all who wish to attend. 

Hope to see you there.

The new elective class means that Edinburgh joins a small group of leading Business Schools now offering MBA modules in Digital Leadership - see 'Shortage of Digital Chiefs Presents Employment Opportunities for MBAs'

As always, comment and feedback very welcome.

Take care.

Jim H

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New Book: Digital to the Core

Published this week, Digital to the Core by Mark Raskino and Graham Waller from Gartner, represents a very important addition to the growing literature on digital disruption, digital transformation and digital leadership.

The core argument of the authors is that standing still in an era of turbulent digital change is not an option. Enterprises and leaders must re-master themselves to succeed. Leaders must identify the key macro-digital forces impacting on their industry/organisation then provide leadership at three main levels industry, enterprise and self.

All leaders need to understand the impact of the digital revolution on their industries, organisations and leadership style.

The core of the book is structured around what the authors call the three primary disruptive forces of the digital age as shown in Figure 1 below:

Resolution Revolution: Sensors will lead to every product and service being digitally remastered. The Internet of Things, Industrial Internet and Big Data will allow us to accurately measure and precisely control things and events. Technology’s ability to capture and process entirely new kinds of data in ever richer detail will underpin the major breakthroughs of the digital age.

Compound Uncertainty: The daunting uncertainty that arises from the complex effects of rapid digital change; uncertainty that undermines and shifts the mind-sets, structures, and practices on which leaders have previously relied. Digital leaders must account for three crucial factors when estimating the timing of markets and digital changes – the ‘triple tipping points’ of technology, culture, and regulation.

Boundary Blurring: Merging of the digital and physical worlds, leading to alterations in the core products, propositions, and possibilities for industries as we know them and softening the dividing lines between industries. The effect then cascades across ecosystems, enterprises, people, and things transforming industries as we know them.

Building on the above, digital leaders must lead their organisation at three distinct levels:

  • Remap Your Industry: How your worldview needs to change. What fundamental industry paradigms must you rethink?
  • Remodel Your Enterprise: What does your enterprise need to become and how will you redefine your company?
  • Remake Yourself: Who do you need to be and how must you remake yourself as a digital era relevant leader?

Figure 1: Digital to the Core (Raskino and Waller, 2015)

Numerous case examples are presented to illustrate the key points raised above, with practical advice given on how to get there.

Digital to the Core is a highly recommended read for anyone serious about the impact of digital disruption on their industry, company and self.

More details can be found on Amazon and on the accompanying web site for the book. The latter contains three short videos summarising the key themes. As always, feedback and comment are very welcome.

Take care.

Jim H

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PwC’s 2015 Digital IQTM Survey released earlier this week identified ten leadership behaviours that drive digital performance.

According to the report, based on a study of 2,000 executives across 51 countries, companies with the highest scores across the ten behaviours are 50% more likely to achieve rapid revenue growth and twice as likely to achieve rapid profit growth when compared to the remaining Digital IQ respondents.

One of the most interesting findings is that more CEOs are leading the digital charge, setting the tone that digital is essential for their organization.By contrast, the role of the CIO in digital transformation is diminishing.  Within three years, their role will be limited to managing internal IT efforts.

Now in its seventh year, PwC’s Digital IQ survey tracks best practices and evolving attitudes and priorities regarding digital technologies around the world. Digital IQ is an annual survey to assess how well companies understand the value of technology and weave it into the fabric of their organization.

The ten digital leadership behaviours with the highest correlation to strong financial performance are:

  1. The CEO is a champion for digital.
  2. Executives responsible for digital are involved in setting high-level business strategy.
  3. Business-aligned digital strategy is agreed upon and shared at the C-level.
  4. Business and digital strategy are well communicated enterprise-wide.
  5. Active engagement with external sources to gather new ideas for applying emerging technologies. Top-performing companies find digital inspiration everywhere, especially outside their organization.
  6. Digital enterprise investments are made primarily for competitive advantage.
  7. Effective utilization of all data captured to drive business value, including use of data to guide strategic decisions.
  8. Proactive evaluation and planning for security and privacy risks in digital enterprise projects.
  9. A single, multi-year digital enterprise roadmap that includes business capabilities and processes as well as digital and IT components.
  10.  Consistent measurement of outcomes from digital technology investments.

You can read the full article here.

As always, feedback and comment are very welcome.

How does your own organisation benchmark against the above? Are you leading the digital charge?

Take care

Jim H

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According to new research by Harvard Business Review (HBR) Analytic Services, there is a strong positive relationship between digital leadership and business performance. Successful companies have a CIO taking a leadership stance in digital transformation.

The top seven strategies of CIOs within companies that HBR considers “Digital Leaders” - organizations strong in both digital leadership and management - are shown in the infographic below.

A key finding is the importance of digital learning. Digital Leaders place considerable emphasis on raising the digital skills bar having CIOs who are educating and empowering line of business leaders in digital knowledge.

To download the full report, click here (registration required).

As usual, all comments and feedback are very welcome.

Jim H

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