Leading your business through the era of digital disruption

Board members often find it difficult to navigate the conversation about digital. Here's how to start.
26 October 2018

APAC stealing a march on digital transformation. Source: Shutterstock

[Cap_it letter=’D’]isrupt or be disrupted is a fact of life for corporations in today’s world.

Those that are ignoring the rise of technology or are slow to adopt are making their customers unhappy — all of whom are waiting for a new-age, cross-industry, digital disruptor to change things up for them — and they’ll gladly vote with their wallet when that happens.

However, the fact is, the adoption of digital is a conversation that must start in the boardroom, and its the board members that must change before they can lead the company through any kind of change or digital transformation program.

There’s a lot of hype when it comes to technology, but it’s not the be-all-end-all solution. Companies need to stop and think about what technology really means to their business.

The truth is, there are many startups out there that have built or are in the process of building solutions that companies can pick up and run with, and there are many ideas in the business that the company can choose to nourish internally — but it all needs to be thought out.

But, before you set out to do anything, you need to remind yourself who you’re aiming to please. It’s the customer and the shareholder that you need to keep happy — and the balance is difficult.

Customers compare the experience you provide with the one that your competitor offers, and that’s where you need to use technology (extensively or liberally). To ensure what you’re offering is a cut above the rest.

It’s also important for the board to explain to shareholders the value in plowing funds into the business to invest in massive technological upgrades.

Shareholders might be more concerned about their returns in the short term than about gaining a competitive advantage from the massive investments in technology (that might hamper their returns in the short term), but it’s up to the board to explain and manage.

Although the CX and technology need to dominate the agenda is required in the mindset of the board itself.

Most boards are quite slow, they plan and strategize in annual terms when the real world is changing every quarter, or maybe even every month.

That is something business leaders see often when dealing with technology startups that they want to invest in.

Our due diligence process usually takes 2 months or so, by which time, things drastically change — which is a reflection of the market. Boards need to be that agile and flexible if they want to lead in the digital era. Unfortunately, the conversation about digital is the same no matter where you go — stagnated.

In order to change, the board members need to be more flexible and agile, and they need to think about technology in terms of improving the CX instead of going for the latest or most exciting technology out there. If that’s the starting point, the sky is the limit for the board and the company.