Step Up To Digital Leadership

No industry is immune to digital disruption.

Globally, executives acknowledge the disruptive influence that digital technologies have on their businesses. In fact, in a recent Forrester survey fielded in conjunction with Russell Reynolds, 41% of business and IT executives believed that their industry had already been moderately or massively disrupted and over half expected to see more disruption over the next 12 months.

You don’t have to look far to find evidence to back this belief up. In fact, you don’t even have to look globally — digital disruption is happening right in your back yard. Just take the UK as an example:

  • The UK government is transforming its public services to deliver “digital services so good that people prefer to use them.”
  • Retailer John Lewis is offering a £50,000 cash investment to the winner of its tech incubator “JLab.”
  • British Airways is driving for operational excellence in baggage handling by RFID tagging luggage.
  • Movie streaming service Blinkbox, owned by retailer Tesco, is expanding into music.
  • PruHealth is partnering with wearable technology firm Fitbug to offer rewards for active health insurance customers.

There are a similar range of examples across every conceivable industry in every country you care to name. Though while many firms may believe they have a digital strategy, few have confidence that their strategy is right, or that they have the skills and competencies necessary to deliver it.

At the most senior level, CEOs are acknowledging the need for change. They understand that digital transformation spans both customer experience and operational excellence — external and internal — outside-in and inside-out thinking. This bridges the traditional worlds of the CMO and CIO, so naturally, many CEOs are looking to this executive pairing to drive change. But in many firms, these senior executives currently lack the digital savviness or the strength of relationship to be an effective partnership.

Enter the eBusiness leader.

eBusiness professionals are uniquely placed to drive digital business transformation in their firms. That’s because few other executives have such a broad range of skills and exposure to the entire spectrum of their business. To succeed, eBusiness leaders must be:

  • Shrewd business managers. eBusiness leaders typically own their online P&L. They understand the nuances of making money online and are results-oriented when it comes to demonstrating their ability to grow their business. 
  • Digitally savvy. By default, eBusiness leaders need digital skills. They understand how to navigate the complex online ecosystems generated by social networks, mobile technologies, search engines, and firms like Amazon. Digital is their home turf.
  • Technically competent. Many eBusiness leaders have development teams reporting into them, and those that don’t maintain strong relationships with both their enterprise technology management teams and their technology vendors. They are actively engaged in technology strategy.
  • Transformational leaders. eBusiness, by its very nature, has driven change into organizations. eBusiness leaders have earned their transformational leadership stripes by setting up their teams and growing them to become a thriving, successful component of the overall business.

Leading the digital business transformation demands all of these skills, and more: diplomacy, courage, vision, fortitude, political-savviness, and influence to name a few. eBusiness leaders are poised to take charge — especially in firms where the CMO/CIO partnership isn’t ready to lead. And even in firms where that pairing is working well, eBusiness leaders bring an invaluable set of skills to the table.

In our eBusiness digital business transformation playbook, we outline the role that eBusiness leaders must play in driving digital change in their firms. We build on the core ideas outlined in our Digital Disruption market imperative and explain the strategies and tactics, organization structures, and metrics eBusiness leaders are employing to drive lasting digital change.

Your firm needs transformation. Ask yourself: Who is going to lead the way?

Comments

How do you see this

How do you see this coordinating/competing with the role of a Chief Data Officer (CDO)? In theory should complement but...

Yes - I agree with your points

I've been involved on digital change for many years and what it needs is support and engagement. If you as a digital preacher don't get the support it's almost impossible...

In this blog post I wrote about ego, leadership and collaboration. It might inspire you: http://www.sofiesandell.com/ego-leadership-and-collaboration/

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