As ‘digital’ increasingly becomes a way of life, businesses too find themselves in a position where they have to adapt to rapidly changing market dynamics. This is further compounded by the emergence of new markets and shifting profitable business models. Companies today are actively investing in tuning their business processes and embedding technology to make more impactful in such market conditions. This can be seen by the rise in digital penetration among companies in recent years.
From internal processes like finance and HR management to customer-facing ones, all verticals today are slowly evolving and embracing digital technologies to perform better. But the rising rates of such a tech adoption—which comprises of using the plethora of digital offering available today—has little do with guaranteed success. The process of digital transformation is littered with instances problems and navigating through them successfully becomes an important task to leverage any potential benefit. More darkly, John Chambers, of Cisco Systems, predicts that 40 percent of today’s businesses will fail in the next ten years; 70 percent will attempt to transform themselves digitally, but only 30 percent will succeed.
As business leaders, this often becomes their responsibility in mobilizing resources effectively and guide the organization in a way that enables employees and managers to fully realize the potential of digitalization. The success of such transformation processes in meeting its intended results lies squarely on CEOs.
A clear understanding of defined roles and responsibilities
With organizational complexity growing by the day and newer competency areas opening up, even top positions within a company can create a lot of clutter; clutter that makes business processes impervious to any real change. Once the strategy and mission defined, their needs to be clarity on how the program is being led and how responsibilities are aligned in how such intended results are to be truly realized. In most larger companies there exist many C-suite positions but to ensure all resources are truly mobilized, roles and responsibilities are to be articulated. If this is not done lack of clarity can lead to infighting, execution gaps, and many other issues that derail transformation programs
Focusing on company culture
A company culture that responds to external changes and can adapt to make the best of digital offerings have become necessary to survive the period of digital transformation. When it comes to reshaping culture, many companies remain operationally focused and as a result, often miss out on big-picture work focusing on building an agile and collaborative work culture. CEOs have to enable their companies to build the right competencies and vision to reduce the struggle many face while adopting agile practices and mindsets. Digitalization helps build superior customer value and enable companies to build products and services more in tune with customer needs. This can happen only when their workforce monitors changing consumer preferences and adopts them to up their offerings in a timely manner. But as many such decision-taking mechanisms are already set in stone, CEOs today have to enable their companies to shake free of inertia and help build the right attitude and competency within their workforce
As CEOs, one has the burden of not only reinventing how the company envisions new technology to benefit its processes but also to keep oneself on the edge of such change. Leading effectively in our current age of technological disruption hinges on the ability to truly remain proactive. While culture remains an important mechanism to ensure the usefulness of digital transformation remains sustainable, it's often necessary for CEOs to set the right path. By being proactive in how they leverage technology, they can enable their companies to take timely decisions (and financially prudent) to create better customer value and improve internal functioning. First mover advantage often proves critical in these times and so does adopting technology in a more meaningful manner. But for either of the routes, timely action is imperative.
Bring order to the chaos
An often forgotten role of the CEO during digital transformation is the need to rein in the chaos that often ensues during transformation. When it comes to adopting digital technologies, companies can often fall into the trap of ‘throwing every technology on the wall hoping that one would stick.’ This proves greatly detrimental in establishing a sense of control and seamless process execution as many across the workforce levels would require rapid skill-building. It is important to note that an agile work culture should not be confused with using all that out there to offer. Before using newer technologies, CEOs have to assess their proper use and take time to see if it aligns with their overall business goals. Even for the company to create a culture which sustains the benefits of digital transformation, chaos has to be consciously removed within the business place.
CEOs in recent times have an ever-larger role to play when it comes to building their company’s ability to survive—and even make the best of—an increasingly digitalized world. But to do so they have to consciously and proactively look at how their work can enable others. This has become more crucial today than ever.