Every company entrusts its fate to personalities that drive the company’s strategic decisions. It is always a pleasure to understand and share the objectives of the leaders, their ideas, and their anxieties, all of which help them to turn these into concrete projects equipped with landing gears rather than wings to fly.
The leaders, however, are found to deal with an epic challenge: The Fourth Industrial Revolution. In other words, the digital revolution. Like any revolution, it brings with it uncertainty and question marks, with few landmarks. So, the answers and the solutions are not always that simple or at our fingertips.
Why, then, should a leader of a company invest in digital? Here are a series of answers that result from stereotypes, too superficial assessments of the problem or just a simple way to show that there is an answer to everything.
- One answer to this question that I often hear is, “Every CIO should know that the market trend is clear and so they should take the risk of investing in digital transformation.”
And, whenever I hear this, I think about the leader with whom I relate and shudder as I wonder what would happen if he or she followed this advice. A leader by their nature is a person who is strongly results-oriented and is more likely to accept and evaluate ideas based on facts, analysis, and a solid business case. In the area of digital, no initiative should start without a business model, an operating model, and a technological model, the three basic ingredients essential to defining a long-term roadmap that leads to a true digital transformation. Nothing is improvised and no choice has to be taken just because “my grandmother would do so”. Of course there is always a risk that must be planned and managed.
- Another frequent answer is: “Because the digital is the future….”
One of the biggest mistakes is the idea that you have to get on a train that is passing, and if you don’t, you are at risk to lose. This train is called digital (all aboard, DigiTrain is about to leave … tickets please!). This idea prompts all business leaders to hastily evaluate the maturity of the company (digital culture, systems, agile integration between corporate offices, organization, process de-coupling, etc.), which inevitably leads to the realization that the company presently lacks in maturity and decides to wait for the next train: it’s too soon!
- “Let’s focus on internal processes, let’s clear out the core processes, first, then we can do the Digital!” is another response that is floated out there. And, I think it’s wrong; there is no longer a business area that cannot be defined as digital. The process is not about only editorial sites, ecommerce, social, innovation, and digital contents, but it pervades all business areas, processes, and functions. The market has become digital and companies are immersed up to their necks. Therefore, they must think of digital and its employees must learn it by doing. Basically, there’s no train passing by, there’s no train to wait on; you are already on the train; everything around us is digital.“The new thinking says you have to start looking at the big picture from the first day and you have to consider the impact that these changes are going to have on the entire organization. You need to figure out how to grease the skids of creativity so they don’t get slowed down by HR, legal, IT, and/or other systems and departments that have been put in place to protect and limit these kinds of changes within large organizations.” (Cit. Ron Miller). Ultimately, HR, legal, and IT must evolve and become digital.
Also, for example, it is essential to understand that bringing your business to a mobile is not digital, much less innovative, but simply normal. The mobile phone is a personal experience; it is always near and is the window to the world. Everyone has a cell phone which is widely used to communicate, connect, browse, read, and even fall in love! Digital is the present, living now, the obvious. Therefore, you need to get to the table and design a roadmap that includes step by step guidance in building the right capabilities, face growing digital culture, and that makes the processes lean to accelerate time to market … define strategies and execute with agility.
- Another response I often hear is, “Because digital is much simpler and investments are lower.”
If there is one thing that is clear it is that the simple things do not exist and well done things require good investments. Often the leaders want to hear from their advisors that with a low investment we can fly an elephant; they play games for their own ends to keep costs down, another obvious! What are some of the consequences to this thought process? Incorporating cost-cutting solutions could result in losing the capability of being agile, streamlined, and able to respond quickly to market changes and missing the opportunity to take care of its customers and transforming this fidelity into revenue.