Digital Leaders Blog

Key Questions for Digital Leaders

“CEOs and their teams are now much more aware of the impact of digital technology on their businesses. However, most struggle in successfully implementing digital transformation. 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).”

Source: Didier Bonnet (2017)

As we move from the WHY to the HOW of transformation for the digital era, it is critical for organisations to follow a planned, strategic approach to ‘getting there’; a strategic approach fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives. An approach recognising that successful transformation is first and foremost about people - customers, employees, partners and other stakeholders. Technology is a key enabler of change, but on its own it is not enough.

‘Stop and Reflect’ Questions for Digital Leaders

November will be a busy month for us delivering Executive Programmes in Digital Leadership in Iceland, Italy, Malta and Edinburgh.

In preparing for these sessions, we have updated our ‘Transformation Toolkit’ to take account of the rapid pace of digital change taking place.

Session participants will work through a number of ‘Stop and Reflect Exercises’ covering the key steps involved in developing, implementing and proactively managing a digital transformation strategy for their own organisation.

In total, there are 25 top level questions to be addressed across five main topic categories:

Digital Landscape Analysis

Hyper awareness of the digital landscape, the disruptive technologies and associated societal changes reshaping your industry, is a key trait of a successful digital leader.

  • What are the key technologies and societal changes threatening to disrupt your industry?
  • How big will the impact be (‘the size of the bang’) and over what time-period will your industry be disrupted (‘the length of the fuse)?
  • How will digital disruption impact on your own organisation – opportunities and threats?
  • What progress has been made in responding - how big is the ‘gap’ between your organisation’s current level of digital maturity and where you should be?
  • How are similar organisations responding, who is ‘leading digital’ in your industry, who is the exemplar of best practice?

‘External’ Digital

In an era of constantly connected, empowered customers, adopting an ‘outside in’ customer-led approach is critical to successful transformation. Unfortunately, too many organisations have focused on digitising rather than transforming existing processes, thereby failing to meet the rising expectations of Gen C (the constantly connected generation).

  • Have you mapped the customer journey with your organisation?
  • How well are you currently using technology to deliver exceptional customer experiences at ‘Key Moments of Truth’ in the customer relationship; what scope for improvement exists?
  • Benchmarked against accepted best practice, what progress has your organisation made in social media marketing, real time customer engagement and social customer service; what scope for improvement exists?
  • Has your organisation implemented best practice Content Marketing?
  • What progress has been made in delivering actionable insight from social media listening, customer data and predictive analytics (is your organisation GDPR compliant)?

‘Internal’ Digital

Current and emerging digital technologies provide exciting opportunities for organisations to rethink the way they operated, the way they work, breaking free from the limits imposed by outdated legacy systems. Embedding technology at the core of everything your organisation does can streamline internal systems and processes, improve efficiency, reduce costs, becoming a more agile, fast-moving data driven business, ‘fit-for-purpose’ in a digital age.

  • Have you mapped the main productivity busters, bottlenecks and frustrations in your organisation?
  • What scope exists for leveraging current and emerging technologies for overcoming these bottlenecks, building Digital Operating Advantage (improved systems, processes, efficiency, costs, speed of response, data etc)?
  • How well is your organisation utilising enterprise social tools for reducing the burden of excessive e-mail, supporting collaboration and knowledge sharing, internally and externally with business partners?
  • What progress has been made in deriving actionable insight from the wealth of data held by your organisation; do staff have access to modern, visual-based, self-service Business Intelligence software, or are your BI needs still centrally controlled by IT?
  • Does your organisation suffer from a legacy IT problem, a legacy management problem or both?

Strategy and Performance Measurement

There will be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in the digital age. ‘Winners’ will be those organisations who leverage the full potential of digital technology for driving competitive advantage in at least five key areas: engaging and connecting with customers; building digital operating advantage; deriving actionable insight from data; supporting collaboration and knowledge sharing; business transformation.

  • Does your organisation have an agreed vision and strategy for the digital era; what is it?
  • What are the main objectives, KPIs and targets to be achieved from your digital strategy?
  • Which priority customer segments (including internal customers) are critical to delivering your overall business and digital strategy objectives?
  • What are the key digital actions and initiatives your organisation needs to implement to achieve agreed goals and objectives; how will these be prioritised and matched with resource availability?
  • How will digital performance and organisational impact be measured?

Implementation and Digital Leadership

As we move from the WHY to the HOW of digital transformation, greater attention is now being paid to implementation issues, especially the main barriers and obstacles standing in the way of effective change; how these can be overcome. There is growing acceptance that the main change barriers are organisational, people and cultural related rather than technological; legacy management thinking rather than legacy technology.

  • What are the main obstacles and barriers to successful transformation in your own organisation?
  • What plans are in place to overcome these?
  • Who is ‘leading digital’; do you have a strong transformation leader at the top of the organisation?
  • How will you organise for change?
  • Is your approach to portfolio, programme and project management ‘fit-for-purpose’ in an era of turbulent change?

I look forward to meeting everyone at our forthcoming sessions.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome. I am sure that others may wish to add to this list of questions.

Jim H

Ps – we still have a couple of places available on our Edinburgh Digital Leaders Masterclass. Details here if you would like to attend. Just let me know if you have any queries. Take care. Jim H

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