To drive its transformation, every organization needs leading figures with digital DNA. These are people who can develop and implement business models grounded entirely in digital logic. They are entirely at home in the digital world, refining their online skills on a daily basis. Above all, though, they’re attuned to consumers and familiar with their expectations in the networked world. They know that digital consumers prefer simple, transparent, personalized offers. This opens up transformational business opportunities – opportunities, though, that first have to be generated.
For companies it is important to ensure that these individuals are able to utilize their specific knowledge and abilities in a focused and results-oriented fashion.
Notably, digital leaders often operate in a much more creative, risk-taking way than we’re accustomed to from the analog era.
Yet what is really crucial is that they create a corporate culture characterized by respect for both the existing business and its new digital orientation. Alongside their invaluable specialist expertise, genuine digital leaders possess the ability to understand managers and employees of the analog age and inspire enthusiasm among them for the new opportunities. By mobilizing the digital potential of existing management teams they avoid creating a two-tier society (in which digital and analog are rigidly separate), promoting dialog between the two worlds. Ongoing dialog and mutual respect are critical to success. The new digital pathways are absolutely crucial, but they can only be financed with revenues from the traditional parts of the business – something every employee needs to appreciate.
Finding starting points that are of relevance for the entire organization and involve both sides is essential to any digital transformation. Without it the transformation simply won’t happen.
Of course any transformation has its disruptive elements, yet debate in this area tends to be overly fixated on the amazing success stories of start-ups that have revolutionized their industries. Companies undergoing digital transformation already have invaluable access to their market through their traditional business units. This is a key strength that it’s vital to leverage, especially in times of radical change.
Changing course mid-journey is more challenging than simply setting out in a new direction from the start. Changing direction means leaving familiar paths behind and trying new ones – something that isn’t going to succeed straightaway. Companies therefore need to learn that making mistakes is a totally normal part of the digital transformation process.