by Rebecca Merrett

Your bosses think they are digital leaders, but they are not

Oct 10, 20133 mins
Digital Transformation

When it comes to digital, the biggest lagger may well be your boss, the CEO. A new survey by Capgemini and MIT Sloan Management Review has revealed that only 37 per cent of CEOs have digital transformation firmly on their agendas.

The survey of more than 1500 business executives in 106 countries, including Australia, found that 81 per cent believe digital transformation will give their organisation a competitive advantage, but 64 per cent believe that the pace of change is far too slow.

“There’s a big gap between how quickly CEOs think digital transformation going inside their business and how quickly employees think it’s going,” said Ben Gilchriest, digital transformation lead at Capgemini.

“And I’m not just talking about social media and mobile apps, but also data analytics and enterprise social networks. CEOs believe it’s going extremely quickly, whereas managers and staff have more of a sense that it’s going too slow. That’s a challenge in how connected CEOs are to digital.”

The survey found there is a lack of shared vision among many senior executives. This is contributing to the struggle to get the ball rolling and execute digital initiates that support the broader business strategy. Only 36 per cent said they have a shared vision for digital transformation.

Gilchriest said this is because ‘digital’ is often seen as something that should be left up to the IT or marketing team alone, resulting in uneven levels of engagement across the business and often misaligned strategies.

“There shouldn’t be [many separate] strategies, there should be one corporate strategy which is enabled by digital,” he said.

“It’s about having a governance structure that’s in place and spans the organisation transversely so you don’t end up with one part of the organisation building a mobile app and another part of the organisation building a mobile app that has overlapping functions.”

Gilchriest suggested reverse mentoring programs – where younger workers or digital natives pair up with senior staff – are effective in encouraging more engagement from the CEO in understanding the role digital has in a business.

He said there’s much more to it than just following some trends. For example, analytic tools could help identify new customer behaviours or growth opportunities, social media could help discover new ideas and innovations.

A lack of digital literacy is another barrier to executing digital initiatives, Gilchriest added, emphasising the importance of reverse mentoring in bridging the gap between people who are very apt with digital technologies to share their knowledge and insights with the rest of the business.

The survey found around 25 per cent of respondents who are from ‘digirati’ companies – highly engaged and active in utilising and managing digital technologies – in 2011-12 saw a plus 9 per cent in revenue creation, a plus 26 per cent in profitability and a plus 12 per cent in market valuation compared to less digitally mature organisations.