10 Things The CEO Can Do To Drive Digital

Forrester held its European Business Technology Forum in London this week -- a convocation of CIOs, Enterprise Architects, Infrastructure and Operations Professionals, Security and Risk Professionals, and Sourcing and Vendor Management Professionals. Lots of great connections were made in London, as per the pic on the left. On Monday night I hosted a working dinner for 20 executives -- a very lively group from BASF, Tetra Pak, Unilever, KLM, Bayer, the WTO, and other large European companies. What's very much on the minds of these BT execs is how to position their companies to be more digital. And when they use the term "digital" they mean, "Using technology to win customers." 

So over dinner we worked on a simple question: "What are the top 10 things a CEO should do to ensure that his or her company can successfully become digital?" Here's the best thinking that the group could muster after much good food, wine, humor, and fun. I have built in some links to relevant Forrester thinking...

  1. Clearly define who owns digital. Clean up the organizational confusion
  2. Create the business case for digital. Show how it increases revenue or increases profit (or both).
  3. If you can't understand the new world of digital, fire yourself.
  4. Build an executive team that is digital first (when problems arise, the first solution is always digital).
  5. Build an executive team that is mobile first (when linking to customers, the first alternative is always mobile).
  6. Make sure there is a techie on the board of directors. If the board has a low digital IQ, the company will have a low digital IQ.
  7. Go to Silicon Valley once per year and talk to the disrupters. Understand their modus operandi and their methods.
  8. Don't block Facebook, Twitter and other social sites within the company. Make a point of attracting digital natives into the organization.
  9. Require that every business function and system in the company is always available on any device at any time.
  10. Figure out where the business will be most disrupted, and send the digital troops there. Don't spread them everywhere -- go where the fight is.

You have better ideas? I'd love to have you post them here as comments -- thanks in advance.


my 2c

Hi, I liked the post so much I thought I'd review it.
also thought you might prefer getting this from the source rather than from some press review weeks from now.



Nice additional thoughts...

You have some good augmentation for the "Top 10."

Thank you!

Interesting review. However,

Interesting review. However, it saddens me to know that still, there are organizations out there that are not fully aware of the true value of having digital fully integrated into the mix, and therefore have yet to brush up on some of the basics listed in this top 10.

Yes, but ...

Mr. Colony,

These are noble goals, but haven't you left out ensuring that you do not alienate present or future clients?

Your advertisements with Information Week are not viewed kindly by IT professionals. Where this was once a quality publication, their content has become poorly written and irrelevant. Information Week exists now only to spam its former subscribers relentlessly, and to making it impossible to opt out of their spam lists.

Your association with a spammer reflects poorly on your good company name, and influences me negatively. May I suggest you add an eleventh entry to your list?

Interesting article and good

Interesting article and good tips; thanks for sharing. Times have definitely changed and businesses can improve productivity by going digital. We just recently blogged about redefining your organizational change process. Check it out...would love your feedback. http://www.keyassociatesinc.com/organizational-change-process

First questions first

This is a thought provoking list of 10 things, although I think most of these things are logistical, and are skipping to the implementation phase of a digital conversion. The first step is the strategy phase. It's answering the question: "How can digital help our business do what we do better?"

This is stated more generally in number 2, "Create the business case for digital", but no insight is given in to how to accomplish that. So how to answer that?

Think: What does going digital give you? It gives you ACCESS to information. Access for employees and customers, as well as undesirable access for competitors.

Access by employees to information previously stored only on paper can be made faster, easier and with lower cost when stored in digital, database form (although there is a cost to conversion of old info to digital). It has to be decided what new & old information will be stored in this way, and how best to capture/convert it, and store it.

Access by employees to information stored only in fellow employees' heads can be improved through a strategic use of social media.

Access by customers to information about your company can be made easier, which can lead to more qualified leads and more loyal customers, at lower expense.

With access comes the need for access control. You want customers to have access to some information, but not all. You want competitors to have as little access to your company's information as possible. Some information should only be accessible to a subset of employees within the company. This is the flip side of #9 in your list: access anything, anytime, by any device, but only if you have access rights!

Once you have a plan for what information you want available to which people, then you can go about bringing in the techies to figure out how to implement that information strategy by digital means. The focus needs to be on the desired flow of data and information first, before the focus goes to the tech. Too many make the mistake of being dazzled by tech, and wanting to jump in and "catch up", without first thinking through how to get the most business benefit for their investment in it, and how to avoid unintended negative consequences.