Suits The C-Suite

In a previous article in this column, we spoke about how important it is for company leaders to become digital-enabled in today’s disruption-led competitive landscape. We discussed how digital age leaders are not only better equipped to meet emerging business challenges and changes in the competitive landscape, but are also delivering better financial performance for their companies.
We will now consider some ways for digital-age leaders to fast-track the digital journey for their organizations by changing traditional leadership mind-sets and work processes.
For organizations to compete and excel in this new digital age, its leaders will need to develop new skills, competencies and capabilities within their organization, as well as new models, policies and work processes. This is not something that can be achieved simply through formal training and learning programs; digital is something that needs to be “lived” and assimilated on a daily basis. For the digital journey to progress rapidly, the workplace needs to become the learning environment, with everyone in the organization learning something new every day.
“Going digital” is not the same as “being digital,” i.e. it’s not simply a matter of acquiring new technologies and platforms, but about making the digital mind-set and its related traits – innovation, technical flexibility, always-on access to information, creativity and resourcefulness, among others, truly ingrained into the organization’s corporate psyche.
An article in the Global Leadership Forecast 2018, a joint research project by EY, Development Dimensions International, Inc. and the Conference Board, highlights three critical elements that help organizations accelerate their digital journey:
Building an organization led by digitally-capable leaders means the workforce and the work environment must both be open to constant learning. For digital-age leaders, this means taking charge of their training and development, including voluntarily taking on stretch goals to gain new and up-to-date skills. Digital-age leaders are also active in providing feedback on how to improve the business, as well as soliciting feedback on how to enhance their own development.
With interaction in a learning-rich environment, leaders grow more confident and adaptable to change and challenges, becoming more decisive and able to navigate complexity with more ease. They also become more adept at using data to make decisions.
New business paradigms demonstrate that today’s high-performing work environments are purpose-driven, team-based and have shallower hierarchies. The workplace of the future incorporates workforce mobility and high-quality technology experiences, and getting this right can help drive engagement, productivity and talent development. One thing to note is that in a digital work environment, people are encouraged, and may even be rewarded for failure in the pursuit of innovation. Such cases often provide valuable learning opportunities and the promotion of a strong experimental mind-set that is focused on finding solutions rather than being fearful of making mistakes.
To support the digital transformation journey, an organization’s talent and leadership structures will also need to evolve. This is where the human resources (HR) function comes in, although it also means that HR needs to likewise become more nimble, digital-savvy, data-driven and cognizant of the changing needs of the business and the expectations of its people.
Digital-age HR leaders need to develop skills in digital technologies and analytics to better develop relevant people models, including new reward models, workforce mobility programs, an innovation-driven workplace, and the challenges of integrating “digital employees” with earlier generations of employees. Some areas where digital HR comes into play include developing digital literacy; automating certain tasks (e.g. self-service portals); administrative functions (e.g. payroll, attendance and record-keeping); and managerial functions (e.g. performance management and compensation).
The benefits of accelerated digital transformation can be considerable. The article mentions that digitally-mature organizations are more likely to have stronger cultures. They’re more focused on future possibilities rather than past constraints, and are more agile and analytics-driven. Perhaps more importantly, such organizations tend to encourage and reward experimentation, which further drives innovation.
In a 2018 report, IDC Philippines predicted that digital transformation will be the main agenda item for many companies in the next 12 to 36 months. It notes that in a thriving Philippine digital ecosystem, organizations must evolve to become digital-native enterprises, driven by an increasing appetite for technology as both a tool and an enabler for business leaders. This sentiment was validated in another IDC Asia/Pacific study, this time commissioned by Microsoft where they anticipated an increase to the Philippines’ GDP by $8 billion by 2021.
Digital savviness is an acquired competence; it is for the taking by anyone with an openness to learning new skills and vistas. With digital transformation of organizations being a top-of-mind priority among global and local business leaders alike, companies are encouraged to explore the right strategy to accelerate their digital journey right now before competition – and even newer technology – outpace them.
This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinion expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.
Rossana A. Fajardo is the Advisory Service Line Leader of SGV & Co.