4 Traits of Winning Digital Transformation Leadership
The majority of digital transformations fail, which means leading one comes with high stakes and a lot of pressure. Digital transformation leadership is a challenge, to say the least.
The number of organizations that have experienced failed digital transformation is shocking.
While the reasons for each failure differs from company to company, almost all of them were impacted by leadership setbacks.
Digital transformation leadership is a critical competency for modern leaders
No business — no matter how big or well known — is immune to the challenges of digital transformation. Even the BBC had to terminate a digital transformation called the Digital Media Initiative (2005-2013) after spending £100 million and failing to deliver a workable content management system.
Digital transformation is an uphill battle. Without a clear vision, strategy, and execution driven by leaders, it is easy to fall off course during periods of prolonged upheaval.
Then the question arises — who is responsible for leading digital change?
While traditionally minded companies might say the CIO is, the complexity of the current digital workplace demands other leaders play a bigger role in leading digital transformation. There is no way to separate the impact of digital tools — both internally and externally — on the overall business strategy and operations, meaning the CEO, CTO, CXO, CHRO, and other senior leaders, must be involved.
The technological landscape is vastly more sophisticated than it was 10 or 20 years ago. The sheer variety of complex technologies means leaders need just as much technical knowledge as charisma.
4 important traits of digital change leaders
1. Thought leadership
Being able to chart the course of technological development is essential for thriving in the digital economy. CEOs and CIOs, and other leaders who can confidently anticipate the capabilities of new technology will outperform organizations that just want to follow a trend. Authentic thought leadership helps a company to keep up with the pace of the digital era.
At a minimum, leaders of digital transformation need to have a keen awareness of technologies like AI, data analytics, and cloud services to make the most of their potential. Without this knowledge, it will be impossible to see the potential for these tools to boost your business.
2. Keeps a pulse on employees needs
Employees are the muscle behind any digital transformation initiative. New technologies in the workplace won’t go far if employees aren’t equipped to adopt them. Strong digital transformation leadership is about understanding this fact and going the extra mile to make sure that employees can integrate your digital investments as seamlessly as possible into their workflow.
The complexity of onboarding new technology is one of the steepest barriers to digital transformation. Roughly 52% of executives cite “a lack of familiarity with technology” as a barrier to digital transformation, meaning the current approaches to onboarding often fail to help.
The most effective way to ensure employees’ training and support needs are being met is to offer a training solution that provides contextual learning and guidance. Such tools, such as WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) analyze a user’s contextual factors to provide tailored, real-time guidance and walk-throughs. Irrespective of their experience on a platform, with the help of contextual learning, users can complete any task easily and efficiently.
The ability to adapt and learn is essential for keeping up with disruptive technologies. Learning the capabilities of new technologies on the fly is essential for keeping up with competitors. For example, approximately 47% of CIOs state that they need new skills to implement artificial intelligence.
As the rate of technological progress increases, so too must companies’ ability to adapt. Not only do they need to identify which emerging technologies can help their business, but also adapt to market trends and forces without buckling.
4. Data literate
The capacity to understand the data that is most meaningful to your business goals, customers, and internal operations are critical to digital transformation success. McKinsey found that data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers and six times as likely to retain customers. Being able to use data increases the chance of digital transformation success dramatically.
Leaders that lack confidence when analyzing data will find it difficult to utilize technologies like AI and data analytics. Likewise, planning or measuring a digital transformation initiative is next to impossible if you don’t have the skills to measure your progress.
Digital transformation leadership requires building a vision
Strong digital transformation leadership gives technological adoption the best chance of success. Without strong leadership, transformation initiatives are likely to become confused and lose momentum. The leader of a digital transformation is in a unique position to inspire employees and drive a new technological vision to the forefront of a company.