A decade ago, digital transformation efforts typically focused on using disruptive technology like IoT, productivity applications, or eCommerce solutions to enhance a single operation or process.
But after years of ‘adding bits on’ to core systems, many organisations, for example, our ferry company client, have found themselves battling against disparate systems, unable to make changes quickly, and missing opportunities due to lack of visibility into customer and business data.
Today, however, the nature of digital transformation has changed significantly, focusing on end-to-end transformation and unifying disparate systems into a systematic, data-driven, strategy. This wholesale approach means that digital transformation relies upon significant shifts in organisational culture, operational and business processes, and business structures to succeed. Therefore it requires sponsorship at board level. But not just from any board – the board of directors you need for a digital transformation must be carefully curated.
The Board of Directors you Need for a Digital Transformation
To have the perfect board of directors you need for a digital transformation, you should seek to recruit at least one leader from one of the following four categories.
This conceptual thinker has directed or advised digital businesses and understands the digital environment. They are not a digital native or a digital operator.
Having experience from a pure-play company, the digital disruptor is deeply embedded in digital but usually doesn’t have much general management experience.
Often with a background in running traditional businesses that rely on technology for competitive advantage (e.g., retail), this director has managed disruption as a general manager.
Currently, directors in this category are most commonly sought to lead transformation programmes. They are digitally astute and, having led the transformation of a traditional business in a hands-on way, have the capabilities to steer the re-engineering of the entire organisation.
How Boards Can Benefit Digital Transformations
At its core, digital transformation aligns perfectly with the board’s mandate because it is about creating value. Many CEOs lack knowledge of the potential of digital and set modest targets for transformation. But, a carefully curated board can maximise the value of a transformation by pushing the CEO to aim higher, ensuring management is exploring new sources of value, and supporting the CEO to forecast and budget appropriately for the duration and scale of the transformation.
Increase engagement by demystifying technology
Organisation-wide engagement is crucial to the success of digital transformations. Boards that can understand and communicate the outcomes technology can enable are often more successful in making digital transformation the top agenda item across the entire business. A simple way to do this is to bring in new board members with experience that aligns with your strategic priorities. For example, if you’ve grown by M&A activity, like our global loyalty and benefits company client, and want to unite multiple IT estates into a unified strategy, a board member with that experience and expertise can help demystify the transformation and show employees what it will make possible.
Tracking performance and outcomes
Understanding whether your digital transformation is working can be challenging, particularly if you seek to achieve subjective or hard-to-measure outcomes, like enhancing the customer experience. Boards with relevant skills and experience can put metrics in place that accurately reflect digital progress and measure how close you are to achieving your desired strategic outcomes. For example, you can measure how fast new ideas are translated into frontline tools or how many paper-based customer processes managers have been able to streamline and digitalize.
When boards have the right knowledge, skills, and structures, they can help guide companies through digital transformation, making the most of new opportunities and ensuring that business technology successfully drives business strategy.
If you’re looking to add to your executive team to get the board of directors you need for a digital transformation, we can help. Book a meeting to talk with a member of our team.