Pseudo Digital Transformation and Rise of the Digital Leader

Digital transformation led by business leaders who underestimated the value of a Digital Leader and fell into the Pseudo Digital Transformation trap.

Today, organisations and business leaders live in a state of constant digital disruption. Unfortunately, for certain large organisations and its business leaders, by the time these rapid changes create an impact in the market, the battle is already lost to the start-ups and smaller organisations who are agile, flexible and have the ability to fail fast, adapt and succeed.

This starts a spiral loop leading to the downfall of large organisations, because the key to evolutionary digital survival is to accept the disruption, think digital and rethink your business.

“It is neither the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent one. It is the one, that is most adaptable to change”, is a well known adage. Someone, somewhere aptly added – “Survival of the digital fittest”.

Thus, naturally, everyone wants to be “Digitally Fit”. There are many organisations and business leaders who adopt cloud for financial, security reasons and implement various BI tools to do the same reporting that was done in spreadsheets to claim that they (and their organisations) are now digitally transformed or even worse, Digitally Fit.

A basic lift and shift of your servers to cloud or using BI tools to consolidate your multiple reports into a fancy looking dashboard, is not the ‘Digital Transformation’ – it is what I call,’ Pseudo Digital Transformation’. And if you are one of those who claim that your organisation has digitally transformed, you are now in the Pseudo Digital Transformation Trap. In this trap, the organisations tend to add on more digital tools, carry out process optimisation, implement RPA in a few departments, but do not truly exploit the value of digital transformation. At the core, it is the same old organisation, trying to keep up pace with the disruptors and competitors who are constantly adding value to the customers and raising the bar.

Rise of the Digital Leader

Just like the neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange from Marvel Comics embarked on a journey to learn a mix of mystical and martial arts, acquire mystical objects and awaken his third eye to transform into the powerful sorcerer – Doctor Strange, your organisation also has to go through the ‘Digital Transformation’ journey to transform into a next big thing in your industry. Your protagonist for this transformation is the Digital Leader.

The Digital Leader explores new, fast and frequently changing digital technologies to help achieve business goals, be more responsive to the client’s needs and the ever-changing business requirements. They help an organisation to create workflow and business processes that allows new technologies, products and services to be rolled out quickly and also, ensures that all legacy applications and IT operations are being maintained. Building a Digital Culture in a massive change management activity for organisations leading to restructuring and changing the way they do business. The Digital Leader ensures that right tools, processes and access are assigned to the right actors, groups and departments.

This results in increased productivity levels of staff, faster-time-to-market (FTTM) of products and features, deeper insights into business, better business decision making process, improved customer satisfaction, increased value to the customer, higher revenue and better margins. To make this happen, getting the right team with right technical skills, in the right roles with right digital tools is the key which ONLY the Digital Leader can drive.

So, what are the skills needed to be a successful Digital Leader or how do you identify your Digital Leader? a.k.a. your Doctor Strange who will help you get out of the Pseudo Digital Transformation trap?

• Software Engineering exposure: Digital Leader must have the knowledge and ability to understand business needs and use digital tools to input, organise and integrate digital resources. Basic understanding and background of Software Engineering and programming skills (not developer skills) are essential to support various projects that can build a strong network of communication and information flow from the top to the bottom of the business and, also with customers.

• DevOps and SRE expertise: The Digital Leader must champion the adoption of Agile methodologies, implement the culture of DevOps, establish CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment) pipelines and set up SRE (Site Reliability Engineering). This will encourage the spirit of innovation, fail fast approach, collaborate, eradicate silos, automate and set up metrics of improvement.

• Cloud architecture & computing skills: While cloud migration will free up your tech resources and improve your cashflow, adopting cloud compute technologies will bring in scalability, improved accessibility, mobility, the benefits are immense. The Digital Leader must have deep understanding of cloud compute (private & public clouds, hybrid clouds and multi clouds), cloud deployment model (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and cloud architecture (Front End, Back End, Virtualisation…).

• AI/ML and Big Data skills: Digital Leader must bring in the mindset that organisations collect, store and analyse client data to learn more about their clients, their behaviours and buying patterns, market trends and other factors that influence their decisions. Digital Leader should know how to leverage data analytics, AI and ML models to gain deeper insights to create and offer products/services that are tailored to each client’s unique preferences and needs.

• Information Security: As we digitise the business, one of the core skills of the Digital Leader is to protect sensitive information from unauthorised activities including inspection, modification, recording and any disruption or destruction of critical data like customer details, financial data and intellectual property. In short, the Digital Leader must manage the CIA (confidentiality, integrity, availability) triad.

To summarise, the magnitude of gap between the digital potential and the digital reality of your organisation is directly proportional to the incongruity between technology decision makers and technology users. The Digital Leader can help bridge this gap by creating a digital-first culture at the core of the organisation and spin out of the Pseudo Digital Transformation trap.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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