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Are you a digital leader or want to be one? What characteristics should you have? Read here more about the topic and how you can get your journey started.
By Brenton Harris, Managing Director
“The ability to successfully engage with disruption can be the difference between thriving and sliding down the performance curve.” David Mitchell Smith, Vice President and Gartner Fellow (source)
Want to be a leader in your industry? It’s no longer only about innovative product concepts, new service models, or outsourcing departments to concentrate on core business, you need to think like a digital leader, too.
What is a digital leader?
A digital leader is a person who surveys the current digital landscape and thinks about how new digital concepts, technologies, and disruptors could affect and/or enhance (or even pivot) their current business operations and model.
The digital leader is a champion of digital strategies and has the influence and capacity to bring about change within the workplace.
They’re a trend-reader, an innovator, and someone who has the ability to think about the long-range implications of digital initiatives. They evoke confidence and excitement about technology in those around them.
Practical ways to think and act like a digital leader
Is this digital trend something shiny and new and fun, or will it actually be practical in helping meet business objectives? If you’re using a technology just because it’s there (for example, AR and VR applications can often be a waste of resources) then you’re looking at the tech wrong. The key here is to evaluate the digital trend according to the impact it will have especially when looking through productivity and efficiency lenses. Don’t forget that negative impact and repercussions should also be carefully considered.
Think like a CEO and don’t get distracted just because something sounds cool and you can see the application in action in your business. Think strategically about whether it will actually be utilised in the long-run and the effects discernible in increasing revenues, productivity, client-onboarding, etc.
Look across the entire scope of technology and its applications
It’s not enough to think within your business lane when it comes to technology. It’s about viewing potential digital disruptors across the following 4 axis:
Business (Market, Development, Pricing, Delivery, etc)
Technology (Invention, Design, Usage, etc.)
Industry (Processes, Standards, Methods, Customers, etc.)
Society (Culture, Habits, Movements, etc.)
(via Gartner source above)
Remember that it’s about a cultural shift within your organisation
Digital strategies and implementations amount to nothing if your staff don’t use them, dislike them, or are confused by them. We’ve written before about employees’ resistance to new technology in the construction industry, and you can expect to be up against resistance among your non-tech-first employees.
Here, you need to think strategically about the messages you send to employees, their training and education, and empowering them with digital solutions, rather than confounding them.
Ideally, you will first use and test the technologies yourself before rolling them out to the rest of the company. Even better, share them with a group of people and get their feedback so you understand the difficulties and pain points encountered during adoption. This way, it will be easier to communicate new technology to the rest of the company and create strategies to properly support your non-tech staff.
Think like a startup
If you were building a similar business from scratch, then what sort of enabling technologies would you use to build it? What would be your Minimum Viable Product? What would be the “nice to have” features?
By thinking about your current company from a ground-up perspective, you’ll get a better insight into where you can take the business now – or do systems overhauls.
Remember to help champion users think beyond the existing business processes and to start from scratch, considering: a) the business needs b) leveraging technology such as automation c) business processes & manual tasks required.
Form working groups of digital leaders within your company
A digital leader leverages company assets to drive digital innovation. And the best assets are your people.
Forming working groups with team digital leaders and developing actionable plans is a way to uncover new strategies and technologies that one person alone cannot dream up.
For more tips on how to think like a digital leader, we recommend having a read of Think Like Amazon, 50 ½ Ways to Become a Digital Leader by John Rossman.
Characteristics of Digital Leadership
Use this checklist to see whether you’re embodying the spirit of a digital leader:
- You understand that digital initiatives are about transforming people and ways of working, not tech
- You realise that digital skills need to be embedded organisation-wide
- You believe that digital processes and technologies are there to serve and shape business and artistic strategies
- You provide the mandate and budget for departments to implement their own digital strategies (with guidance provided)
- You ensure digital projects are benchmarked before they begin, and metrics and analytics used throughout to guide further innovation, engagement, productivity, etc.
- You’re an expert in convincing stakeholders of the value of digital initiatives, including via proof of concepts.
Explore the digital landscape for your organisation
Ready to explore digital innovations that could be a match for your organisation? Bremmar is here to help businesses become digital leaders in their industry. With the right mindset, processes, and practices, you’ll be able to realise the benefits of a digital-first attitude. Contact us on 1300 991 351 or fill in the form below to set up a meeting today!