Lead or be led: Why digital transformation starts at the top

By Darya Rusanova on 08. October 2018

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Digital transformation is in need of a boost. According to Ted Schadler, principal analyst at Forrester, too many businesses are not investing enough resources into digital technologies or not even bothering to transform at all. Writing about the findings of his survey of 1,600 US and European businesses, Schadler talks of his surprise at the 22% “not interested”, and the 56% who are “just dabbling”.

“Why?” he asks. “As one respondent put it, ‘It’s a war between old-school technophobe leaders and the technology innovation that represents a completely different way of doing business’.” 

Perhaps it’s not a war but there is definitely a generational difference, and businesses really are being hamstrung by a lack of technology know-how at board level, which is  worrying for their future prosperity. Digital transformation is not really a nice-to-have, it’s increasingly a necessity.

Start at the top

Clearly, digital transformation has to start at the top. Boardrooms need to set the digital agenda and that means embracing, if not investigating, some uncomfortable ideas. Artificial intelligence (AI) for one is not going to go away. As a technology designed to help make automatic decisions, its role and potential impact on working life has been the subject of much debate.

As KPMG suggested in a paper last year, Introducing the boardroom bot, “AI is coming, bringing with it a wave of disruption and opportunity for business…AI won’t replace human board members but it will make them more effective.”

Much of this comes down to data, how it’s collected, processed and analysed. Data is now the source of intelligence for most businesses. The real question for the boardroom is how to unlock it. Certainly, this is something AI will help facilitate in the near future, but understanding the value of data is key to providing the right foundations for that future.

Digital transformation in the boardroom is therefore a necessity. Everything from improved efficiency, more informed and accurate decision-making, compliance and accountability will stem from the digitisation of the boardroom. Information flows will become more regular, as live data insights deliver up-to-the-minute intelligence on the business and its customers.

We are entering a real-time data world and the demands this will place on the board and decision-making are unparalleled. So what can boardrooms do to keep up? 

This post was prepared in collaboration with Board Agenda. To continue reading, please click here. 

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