Digital Leaders Blog

Since May of this year, we have delivered eight of our highly regarded ‘Leading Digital’ Executive Masterclasses, including two five-day programmes, four three-day programmes and twice through online delivery over a five-week period.

Senior managers representing 200 organisations, from 20+ countries, have participated. A live Interactive Polling Tool was used to provide high level insight into the State of Digital Transformation 2018 covering the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Key highlight findings are summarised below:

1.  To what extent is your industry, your organisation, under threat of being disrupted?

Eighty-six per cent of executives agreed that their industry/their organisation was under threat of being disrupted. Twenty-five per cent stated that ‘big bang’ disruption is already taking place.

A broad range of technologies and societal changes were identified as having a disruptive impact including mobile connectivity; social media; the cloud; big data & predictive analytics; Internet of Things/Industry 4.0; digital workplaces; artificial intelligence, automation & robotics; 3D printing (additive manufacturing); wearables; augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR); autonomous vehicles/drones; the blockchain; together with the emergence of a new generation of constantly connected, empowered customers (Gen C - who have also become our constantly connected employees).

Note: Based on the Short Fuse: Big Bang model for evaluating the extent to which different industries will be digitally disrupted (size of the ‘bang’) and the time period over which disruption will take place (length of the ‘fuse’).

2.  To what extent is digital transformation a priority for your organisation?

Despite growing awareness of the need for change, fewer than one-third of participants agreed that digital transformation had ‘already become mission critical’ for their organisation. While transformation was ‘emerging as a priority’ in over half of the organisations surveyed, fewer than 25 per cent of respondents claimed to have an agreed digital vision and strategy guiding the future direction of change.

3.  List the main barriers and obstacles to transformation change within your organisation.

Participants identified a wide range of obstacles to the successful digital transformation of their organisation. Echoing other research in this area, people, organisation and culture, NOT technology, emerged as the main change barriers. Only five percent of those polled stated that their organisation had a well-developed action plan to overcome these barriers.

4.  Who is leading digital in your organisation?

A wide range of answers were received to this question ranging from ‘no one’ to the CEO. Almost two-thirds of the organisations polled (62%) stated that they were facing a digital leadership crisis ‘at least to some extent’.

5.   The key traits of a successful digital leader.

Successful digital transformation is first and foremost about changing people, organisation and culture. Technology is just the facilitator of change.

Consequently, a new breed of senior executive is required - leaders of change for the digital era; leaders combining high level business knowledge, experience and understanding with the ability to develop and implement digital transformation strategies fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business outcomes. Leaders who possess both the confidence and personal skills to drive digital supported organisational change.

Respondents agreed that successful leaders of change for the digital era required a combination of hybrid skills and experience as shown in the tag cloud below. ‘Knowing about IT stuff’ is no longer enough.

Our next ‘Leading Digital’ Executive Masterclass, in association with the University of Edinburgh Business School, takes place on the 4th/5th October, 2018. Full details can be found here - Digital Leaders Masterclass.

If interested in coming along, please do not hesitate to contact me for an informal chat.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

Take care.

Jim H



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