Making Digital Capability a Priority

Almost half of business leaders in the UK believe technology will cause some disruption in their industry in the next two years, a study from Microsoft suggests. In “Digital Transformation: The Age of Innocence, Inertia or Innovation?” the software giant reports that the majority have not adequately embraced the need for change.  It states: “There is a sense that many organisations are tinkering around the edges of their business model” and cites slow decision-making, risk aversion, legacy investments and poor IT agility as “key blockers”.

Technology is having a massive impact on the world of business.  And facing uncertainty for a whole host of reasons, there is perhaps one thing that leaders must accept as a truism: Technology will continue to disrupt and is going to compel businesses to move and act even faster, not slower.

Indeed, Accenture’s global technology survey of more than 3,000 IT and business executives found the vast majority (86 per cent) reckon the pace of change will increase either “more rapidly” or at an “unprecedented rate” in their industries over the next three years.

The challenge for leaders is to find their organisation’s own digital advantage and create a strategy to capitalise on it.  It means taking a deep look at the organisation’s existing service offering and/or products and assessing how fit-for-purpose the business model and strategy are in the digital economy.

Organisations must factor in a new breed of always online, 24/7 customer who is less loyal, more discerning and who now holds the balance of power.  To serve them well, organisations must change the nature of the relationship, utilise technology to make their communication more personal and embrace social media channels to nurture and inform them as well as seek feedback.

To set themselves apart from the competition and develop the products and services that will be in demand from customers, leaders must grant their people permission to think differently and to prioritise ideas and innovation.  This will mean taking risks and even making mistakes. Indeed, a first-time round idea that doesn’t make the grade could ultimately turn out to be what gives an organisation competitive edge once it is developed a stage further through collaboration and discussion.

Leaders need to ensure there are channels in place to invite ideas and input from not only employees at all levels, but customers and suppliers which may bring a different take on how a market could be developed and reshaped.

So whether an organisation needs full-blown disruption coupled with a radical new business model to gain digital advantage, or just an evolution of existing products and services to better meet the need of both today’s and future customers, bold and courageous leadership will be required.

There is no room for innocence and no place for inertia. If the equivalent of an Uber or Airbnb hasn’t steamrollered into the market yet, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t around the corner waiting for the right moment to strike.

 

These themes are explored in more detail in Rialto’s free white paper, “The Digital Imperative”, which is available for download here:

 

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