What is the role of leadership in digital transformation?

The recent pandemic has demonstrated that, when used effectively, digital transformation can help businesses succeed in even the most trying circumstances.

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What is leadership in digital transformation?

Leadership in digital transformation involves guiding an organisation through the intricate process of adopting and adapting to digital technologies. Effective digital leaders navigate this evolution by setting a clear vision in their business marketing plans, fostering a culture of innovation, and ensuring the alignment of technology with strategic goals.

What is digital leadership? Why is it important?

Digital leadership is an emerging concept that defines a leadership approach in the digital age. It encompasses the ability to leverage technology and data to drive innovation, adapt to change, and guide organisations through the digital transformation process.

It enables organisations to stay competitive, respond to market shifts, and harness the potential of emerging technologies. Moreover, it encourages a customer-centric mindset, where the focus is on delivering exceptional digital experiences. It is quickly becoming a vital component of success in almost every sector in the digital era.

Whatever sector a business is in, using the right digital tools and technology can provide companies with new value and potential.

‘Digital transformation’ might seem overused these days and perhaps a little vague, leaving many wondering what it actually refers to. The term can mean different things for different companies. For some, it might be using a new online computing platform to better organise the company finances. For others, it could be moving to a different operational model from a physical office to a remote working setup.

Irrespective of the technology or scale, successful digital transformation programmes begin the need for senior management to understand change starts with people.

In the blog ahead, let’s explore the digital transformation framework and the role of leadership in digital transformation.

The digital transformation framework

Cognizant recently published a useful framework that can help you understand what goes into a digital transformation programme. As per the framework, leaders can initiate digital transformation in their companies by doing the following:

  • Digitising customer experience: With numerous social and digital channels, customers now expect brand engagement across all of them. Enabling an omni-channel relationship with your customers can help you secure a larger market share and bring in more profits.
  • Digitising products and services: It’s not enough these days to simply sell a product or a service. The most successful brands are selling experiences as they effectively use technology to serve their customers. Businesses can also allow clients to customise their products to boost satisfaction levels.
  • Digitising company operations: Digitising products and customer experiences isn’t enough to improve market share. Companies are looking into digitising and streamlining their processes to make them relevant in multiple markets and give them a competitive edge.
  • Digitising employee communication channels: Digitisation of a company can also be achieved by moving communication channels into the digital space. This way, employees can work more closely and enjoy greater collaboration across different locations.

The role of leadership in digital transformation:

While having a robust framework in place can speed up the digitisation process, it isn’t enough. A McKinsey research report reveals that less than one-third of all digital transformation efforts succeed globally, even for digitally savvy sectors like media and tech. The success rate is even lower for other sectors.

The biggest challenge to achieving widespread transformation is reluctance from the employees to accept new technologies or policies. The company’s size is a huge factor too; the larger the size, the harder it can be to convince the workforce to accept the change.

When leading digital transformation in your company, it’s your responsibility to foster enthusiasm among the employees for the transformation opportunities.

Here are some tips to follow if you are implementing a new digital transformation strategy within a company:

  • Have customer-focused business objectives

You shouldn’t implement digital transformation just for the sake of it. McKinsey research says that businesses focusing on tech as an end goal are more likely to fail in their transformation efforts.

You should instead try to determine how technology can help you serve your customers better. Having customer-focused goals for transformation can help managers pick the technology that can truly help a company transform.

  • Don’t neglect what works 

While embracing digital change can be a good goal, don’t throw out conventional management and communication techniques, especially if they work. Many traditional communication channels can bring the same results and keeping them in place will help employees feel comfortable.

Companies should try to integrate successful communication and management techniques with digital tools to make them more transparent and efficient.

  • Teams need to accept the transformation

Change often induces confusion and fear of uncertainty among employees. When companies adopt new tech to reduce costs, employees see the decision as a prelude to replacing them altogether.

One of the primary responsibilities of leaders is to get teams to see that technology can reduce their workload and help add more value to the company. Companies should invest time and resources into training teams in the technology to let them understand its worth rather than see it as a threat to their jobs.

Importance of MSc Leadership for Digital Transformation

Pursuing an MSc in Teadership for Digital Transformation is crucial in today’s dynamic business landscape. This specialised programme equips future leaders with the knowledge and skills needed to drive digital initiatives, adapt to technological shifts, and orchestrate organisational success in the digital age.

What challenges do leaders face during a digital transformation?

Due to the ever-changing nature of our digital world, leaders will face a number of challenges along the way to sustain businesses effectively. Some of these challenges include managing resistance to change, aligning the workforce with new technology, ensuring data security and privacy, and navigating the rapid evolution of digital tools and trends.

Leaders may also face:

Employee resistance: After a certain period of time, employers become accustomed to completing tasks a certain way. Digital transformation however requires a great deal of change. Leaders then face the challenge of motivating and encouraging employees to embrace new procedures and digital tools.

Lack of expertise: Leaders may also lack the correct set of skills to handle certain business and marketing tasks in the most optimal way possible. They can also fall victim to stubbornness, showing a reluctance to change, therefore affecting the outcome of the business’ goals.

Limited budget: Leaders have the responsibility to optimise resources and reach the objectives of digital transformation, even if that means a strain on budget and other resources. They must devise strategies to oversee digital transformation, sometimes even several rounds of financial requirements being needed.

Curious to know how else company leadership can initiate digital transformation? The M.Sc. Leadership for Digital Transformation programme from the Gisma Business School, Germany, is the ideal programme for you!

The programme provides you with all the expertise and relevant skills necessary for leading transformation projects in today’s digital economy. The course also gives you a perspective on how to lead the process and redefine your digitisation strategy.

This postgraduate degree is perfect for business management graduates who want to take up more advanced leadership roles in digitally savvy companies. The programme is also suitable for those interested in pursuing a career in digital business management.

Click here to learn more about this programme at Gisma.

As a leader initiating digital transformation, you must remember that it takes time to bring change at all levels and get employees on board at the same time. You must adopt an open-door policy and transparent management efforts to reassure your employees and make your transformation efforts successful.

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