Digitalization is rapidly changing the way companies operate and create value in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The emergence of technology-centered business models is also challenging established organizations to reimagine and reinvent themselves to remain relevant to the marketplace.
Digital readiness is of importance as it seems that while many organizations are either experiencing or expect to experience some form of significant digital disruption, few appear genuinely prepared.
DT/DX is the process of integration and leveraging of digital technologies (including but not limited to artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things, Internet of Systems, big data, cloud computing, and blockchain technologies) into all aspects of an organization. It transcends traditional roles like sales, marketing, operations, finance, strategy, IT, and customer services to create new or enhance existing business processes, culture, and customer experience (CX) to meet changing market requirements.
DT/DX is not just about disruption or technology. It’s about creating and delivering a compelling value proposition and a digital-drive culture that focuses on the integration of three pillars of strategy: people, process, and technology (PPT).
It is the reimagining of the business in the digital era with an obsession with the customers and with everyone adopting a customer-centric mindset (which begins and ends with how the organization thinks about and engages with its customers). DT/DX also focuses on delivering value for various stakeholders (particularly its customers) and continuously innovating and acquiring the relevant digital capabilities in response to the rapidly
The Digital-Driven Organization Culture
As organizations embark on DT/DX at the workplace, it’s critical to create a culture in which everyone is digitally savvy and demonstrate “disruptive mentality,” where they continuously seek to redefine how they create and deliver value for customers by leveraging on digital technologies.
But DT/DX calls for more than just updating technology or redesigning products. Failure to align the effort with employee values and behaviors can create additional risks to an organization’s culture if not managed properly, whereas a comprehensive and collaborative effort can help shift the culture to understand, embrace, and advance DT/DX.
DT/DX demands vision, leadership and process change alongside powering core operations with technology. Therefore, DT/DX requires introducing change at the most fundamental level, addressing how things get done everywhere in the organization. DT/DX affects the company culture itself. Without addressing culture change, DT/DX is bound to be a superficial attempt.
From the Centre of Executive Education’s (CEE’s) consulting engagements in partnering with clients on driving DT/DX agenda, and drawing on CEE executive coaches’ discussions with C-suite clients, various factors, elaborated on below, have been consistently identified and validated by other research, as notable barriers to a successful DT/DX within their organizations.
The lack of buy-in and involvement of the CEO and senior leadership team may reflect on their underestimating or misunderstanding of the strategic importance of culture in the DT/DX journey of their organization. As with any transformation, leaders who guide a DT/DX are often preoccupied with structural and process changes and overlook the people’s side, only to wonder why the effort faltered.
It’s well established that cultural change is a crucial determinant of a successful transformation, especially for DT/DXs. The behaviors that embody a digital culture represent a significant shift
from long-standing norms and particularly challenge traditional power structures, decision-making authority, and fundamental views of competition and cooperation among employees. The People ahead of Process and Technology (PPT) mantra is a major imperative.
Research by the Centre for Executive Education along with the consulting engagements have identified several best practices, all of which make a digital transformation more likely to succeed as seen in the Figure below.
These characteristics fall into six categories:
Having a clear digital vision & transformation agenda
Create a culture of an obsession of the customer (customer-centricity)
Develop a digital-driven organization culture that is fit for purpose
Ensuring a clear communication strategy of the digital-driven culture
Adopting a data-driven approach to problem solving & decision-making
Deploy the right talent (leader and team members) with the digital
MIT Sloan Management Review (SMR) released a profound leadership resource that illuminates what it takes to lead in 2020. The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age report summarizes findings from the comprehensive SMR–Cognizant’s “2020 Future of Leadership Global Executive Study and Research Project,” making the case that organizations must empower leaders to change their ways of working to succeed in a new digital economy of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
This objective of the research is straightforward: to explore how the changing nature of competition, work, and society is influencing the future of leadership. The authors surveyed 4,394 global leaders from more than 120 countries, conducted 27 executive interviews, and facilitated focus-group exchanges with next-gen leaders worldwide. The findings are as sobering as they are inspiring. They serve as a warning for today’s leaders—as well as an invitation to reimagine leadership for the new economy. Reliance on antiquated and ineffective leadership approaches by the current generation of leaders is undermining organizational performance. Today’s trailblazing leaders increasingly recognize that to transform their organizations credibly, they must transform themselves first and then their teams (Ready et al. 2020).