Digital Transformation: who takes responsibility?
An organisations failure to digitally transform is like going into the jungle without insect repellent – sooner or later, you’re going to get bitten.
Digitisation is one of the main drivers of business change in the coming years. Some organisations have made leaps and bounds, while others are not doing enough to prepare themselves for change. What’s clear is that the status quo will no longer cut it an increasingly digital world. It demands a massive paradigm shift in the way organisations work, which will be a long road but one worth taking. So how do we use digital as a catalyst to change the way people in our organisations think, work and behave?
For many organisations, the first step is to garner support in the c-suite. According to research conducted for the Leading Edge Forum, less than 40% of companies believe that their leaders are equipped to harness and lead digitisation. In fact, a lack of sufficient leadership from senior executives is seen as a major barrier to future success.
So who needs to take responsibility for digitalisation? Some organisations take the step of appointing a CDO –Chief Digital Officer – to the c-suite. There is merit to this approach. For one thing, it acknowledges the need for high-level support. For another, it recognises the need to reshape the entire organisation around digital. The benefit is that this person can act as an agent for change – to steer the organisation, execute a strategy and provide leadership on the road toward digital transformation.
The CDO is a first step, but it’s important to remember that they’re not miracle workers. The CDO needs support from the executive team, and an understanding that digitalisation will touch every corner of the organisation. There needs to be a concerted effort by the CDO to ‘raise the digital IQ’ of the entire senior leadership team. That will lay the grounds for the entire organisation to transform from the inside out.
We can’t let organisational ostriches bury their heads in the sand – for digitisation to work, it needs to be properly acknowledge, and its approaches embedded throughout the entire organisation. That requires a fundamental shift in the way that people and processes work.
Silos undermine the process, so collaboration must be given top priority. Every part of the organisation needs tools to relate digitisation to their own work. All teams need to reach a similar level of understanding to ensure that everyone speaks the same language, and start building a clear digital vision together. If successful, this will bring about a culture of ‘thinking digital’ and will reshape the very fabric of the organisation.
These key differentiators tell us why some companies seem to effortlessly harness digital’s potential to become more dynamic, agile and customer-centric, while others seem to struggle – in vain – to squeeze it into their existing corporate structure without acknowledging the need for widespread change. What’s important is that people in the organisation are thinking digital first – and that the process is undertaken by the entire organisation in unison.