​Digital vision must be led from the top-down

The CEO can't outsource these decisions any more.

Differenc3 by Reinhard Kuchenbäcker (Flickr)

Differenc3 by Reinhard Kuchenbäcker (Flickr)

Digital transformation is now a must, not an option. Businesses that don’t embark on the journey, and fast, will be left behind. One of the key differentiators between those who succeed at digital transformation, and those who simply come along for the ride, is the person who initiates and leads the change.

A recent Forrester Report revealed that for 41% of mature digital businesses, the CEO is responsible for setting the digital vision and strategy, and in less mature digital businesses, the CIO tends to be in charge of the digital vision and strategy.

When the CEO sets the digital vision and strategy, you are future-proofing and insuring against the sometimes perilous, but necessary journey of digital transformation. This contrasts to when the initiative is driven from the bottom-up, and the vision has a tendency to become deprioritised or crowded.

Leadership, and specific collaboration between business leaders, will become the cornerstone for a winning digital transformation journey, but it must come from the top.

A persuasive and universal digital vision forms the entire foundation for digital business transformation – you can’t have one without the other. As a business leader, there are several steps you can take to ensure you are leading your team through this evolution in the best possible way.

Break down silos, open up communication

Business teams operating in silos can become a significant barrier to effective digital transformation. To have vital business functions such as IT, marketing, or sales, operating in silos will intensify many operational challenges, such as prevention of end-to-end experiences, and the competition of various digital functions.

Removing the competitive aspects and encouraging collaboration amongst your teams is a highly effective way of getting company-wide buy-in for any digital transformation undertakings. Specifically, silos can be broken down by assigning staff to customer teams that have been pulled from all aspects of the organisation.

Align KPIs towards improving the customer experience

Many businesses now find themselves in a situation where their customers, products, business operations, and competitors, are all fundamentally digital. To attract and retain customers, a deep focus must be put on the customer experience, specifically into making it as seamless and digitally-centred as possible.

Read more: How to rebuild your innovation mojo

Typically a function of the marketing team, improving the customer experience must become a company-wide effort. It is up to management to ensure that everyone, from IT to sales, comes on this journey. Setting group KPIs for customer satisfaction is an effective way to reset focus in teams and encourage collaboration. As with all digital vision, it must begin from the top-down. A hyper-connected leadership team with customer-oriented success metrics will filter through the whole organisation.

Equip and empower employees with customer data and analytics

Business technologies available today can generate deeper insights than ever before. Silo’d technologies that record data, but don’t usefully analyse it, are a sure way to creating inefficiencies. Agile businesses give various teams direct access to customer data, and the training and tools they require to analyse it, enabling a methodical approach to business decision-making.

Properly analysed data from empowered employees is a key way to encourage strategic insights and creative ideas. Through understanding the customer journey and the constant personalisation tactics this entails, employees from different teams can demonstrate ROI and share inspired concepts.

As a CEO, democratising data can seem like a risky decision, but having robust technologies at hand and a fleet of staff who understand and can implement data-driven strategies will only be of further benefit as businesses navigate new digital landscapes.

In conclusion, digital vision that is led by the CEO and senior management team will translate into real business success. Educating, training, and inspiring your employees in practical ways, such as setting customer experience KPIs, breaking down silos, giving roadshow presentations and leveraging data will all contribute to a successful digital transformation journey.

John-Paul Syriatowicz, Group CEO of Squiz

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