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Time to take leading role in digital transformation

In the modern era the driving business is about global networking, identifying and developing business opportunities, generating solutions and taking calculated risks. It is also about how integrity, reliability and resilience are needed to handle pressure and continuous regulatory changes.

Leading change is about navigating people in an unstable work environment, promoting and inspiring collaboration, empowering team members to embrace change and drive their self-development, being self-aware and be willing to move into the role of a humble facilitator. Companies need leaders who can thrive despite setbacks and adapt to new ways of working, new business models and new forms of technology. Often, the hurdles are more significant and more challenging for leaders than for individual contributors. The challenges at the leadership level are magnified.

Managing the economy of the future will require a different style of leadership, one that is equipped to respond to emerging threats and opportunities rapidly. A high-quality leadership assessment model doesn’t just identify traits that are needed to lead right now. It looks for the timeless leadership traits that leaders will need to move their company forward despite the volatile, complex and uncertain nature of the modern business climate.

Business leaders whose organizations have been in the middle of the digital transformation journey and others who may not have formally planned and committed to it are both having to steer their organizations carefully past the bumps caused by Covid-19 impact and navigating the digital tracks with finesse, being conscious of the risks associated at every step. Both types of organizations have to reorient their strategies around the digital factor which has occupied the core of business functioning.

The caliber of leadership required for this journey is unique and comprises of layers of capabilities. The criteria of digital leadership has multiple facets. Leadership should be:

  • Tough enough to face the market and competition change.
  • Creative and innovative mindset to formulate the idea into reality
  • Global vision to provide direction and able to transform business.
  • Able to deal with the complex and dynamic ecosystem due to VUCA factors:
  • (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity factors)
  • Able to lead in complex times and synthesizing the information for decision making.

Leadership style and form that succeeds in born-digital organizations is very different from leadership required for organizations that are changing tracks from their time tested ways of doing business to embark upon digital transformation journey. Leadership in organizations undergoing digital transformation is different as the transformation journey impacts several dimensions of the business and therefore requires to bring together a gamut of experiences, skills and know how to put together teams and motivate them.

The all-encompassing lesson from the pandemic is that digital leaders need to view their business as a living enterprise. Respond to induce, align with emerging trends and anticipating changes in customers’ connectivity and interactions.

Digital leaders must be agile and build an organization that embraces change and manages it effectively, regardless of its scale.

In addition to adopting “Change is a constant” phenomenon; there are other lessons to be learned from the pandemic that will impact how organizations uses the digital systems that define both the customer experience and the firm.

How should the digital systems act?:

1- Collective efforts: Overcoming the crisis became a collective effort arising from the realization that everyone is in this together, giving birth to a desire to better support good causes in the post-pandemic era. Digital systems are now a critical means of showing corporate commitment. Focusing on the collective good is almost mandatory when targeting millennials and Generation Z. Creativity can help a brand find a new or unique way to demonstrate its support of the collective good that will stand out in the market and help it gain traction.

2- Changes in lifestyles: The spread of COVID-19 has made it clear that a single bad choice can be disastrous. Now we need to focus on making healthier lifestyle choices, as we have been exposed to new ideas and new activities. Nowadays we are spending more time at home and preferring to entertain there. People are new norms for deciding whether they should attend a mass even or not and relying more on their immediate circle of friends and family.

3- Omni-channel: During the pandemic, many items were in short supply or sold out. To find scarce commodities, consumers have learned to shop anywhere and everywhere. Consumers immediately merged the physical and digital worlds to get what they needed. It has been estimated that marketers using three or more channels in any one campaign earned a 287% higher purchase rate than those using a single-channel campaign. This will put new demands on every B2C and many B2B businesses to implement and deliver on an omni-channel strategy. Digital-only companies also learned from fulfillment problems and sub-optimal CX events that they too needed to do more to become omni-channel businesses. Strong omni-channel systems will also provide greater insight on new ways to serve customers as the distinction between channels ebbs.

4- Organizations as living Enterprises: The impact of COVID-19 has been so extensive that it is difficult to see beyond it. The starting point is to view the business as a living enterprise and not a static entity. Digital trends are going to be accelerated in areas where people need to change their business models to be competitive. Likewise, long-term behavioral changes will require a response from companies. And they need to update the digital systems that interact with customers to meet new demands.

Importance of digital strategy acceleration

Digital business acceleration is important now for three reasons:

  • As in pandemic, physical activities were no longer possible, the value of digital initiatives in e-commerce, deliveries, supply chain virtualization, process automation and other activities has increased many fold.
  • The global slump has created the need to overhaul costs and streamline operations.
  • The rapid responses to the pandemic make accelerating digital business seem feasible and also critical for the survival of a company.
Digital Transformation Initiatives

There are lots of areas within digital transformation scenario; some of them are:

Telemedicine:

Digital transformation in the medical space has been an exciting prospect in the past few years. The coronavirus pandemic has brought the need for telemedicine into the forefront of our cultural consciousness. There’s a critical and growing need for doctors to have the ability to consult with patients remotely in order to reduce the chances of virus transmission.

Virtual events:

Conferences and events are hot spots for transmission of virus. Emerging from this reality is a new focus on virtual events and online learning. Companies are exploring ways to translate in-person events to digital experiences while ensuring they maintain value and remain compelling.

Work from Home:

Many companies have offered flexible work-from-home policies. Those companies who resisted the idea have fallen behind. It was common assumption that many jobs couldn’t be done from outside the office which proved to be wrong; however appropriate infrastructure is required of that.

As experts predict this crisis may continue for months, it is required that proper investment in remote work infrastructure should made.

Limitations

Digital transformation is more critical than ever. The expense of undertaking such a transformation might prove prohibitive for businesses that will take a hit during this crisis.

Momentum is expected in the pace of digital transformation in all type of businesses but the fact that many businesses will suffer losses in the months to come complicates the picture slightly.

Closing thoughts:

There will undoubtedly be many lessons that emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, but a big one for business will certainly be the necessity of strategically planned, thoughtfully implemented digital transformation as the only way to survive this crisis and future ones.

The author, Nazir Ahmed Shaikh, is a freelance columnist. He is an academician by profession and writes articles on diversified topics. He could be reached at [email protected]

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