Ensuring digital maturity in the boardroom

Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the level of uncertainty surrounding it, the world is changing – and technology is playing an important role. Is the digital revolution a blessing or a curse? Many boardrooms have been left confused. Suddenly, decades of hard work has been rendered obsolete. Wealth is changing hands without warning and tangible assets are being replaced with intangible benefits. Much of this can be explained with digital transformation.

Fuelled by data, driven by computing power and directed by consumer behaviour – the digital world is creating value from intangible assets as we have never seen before. The most valuable organisations on the planet are those with the most data, computing power, and users. There is no way to compete with them. The only way to keep up for legacy businesses is by partnering with those at the forefront of digital progression, so long as these innovative companies see any value in what laggard organisations are doing.

Escalating to the boardroom

The boardroom does not need to engage on a technology level, nor does it need to understand consumer behaviour in detail. However, digital transformation must become a top priority for those in the C-suite. Executives must understand that we are moving away from the classic business model and financial approach. Instead, we are heading towards an information age and knowledge society. The charts of accounts, asset classes and business priorities are all changing.

It can be expected for the C-suite to be confused about digital. For many, it is an unknown and seemingly complicated path. The most common questions that executives have been asking over the last few years are focused on understanding their journey. The beginning is not clear, because it’s difficult to clearly distinguish where technology ends and where digital starts. It can also be unclear where this journey will lead businesses and how long it can take. There is much uncertainty around digital transformation, but understanding digital maturity can help businesses quantify their road to the future.

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Transformation is more than tech

Digital is far too important to leave it to IT teams only. Digital transformation is not about technology. Once businesses understand why, what, how, and when to digitally transform, they will see that the technology agenda is typically the easiest part. Making decisions, setting priorities, changing the culture and overcoming mental barriers are much more difficult. This all begins in the boardroom. Strong executive leadership will navigate the organisation towards long term business success and sustainability.

Decisions are made in the boardroom based on analysis, numbers, options, or feasibility studies. However, when it comes to digital transformation, that analytical and quantitative approach seems to disappear. Usually, it’s a basket of conflicting priorities – projects generated by hype, or tech vendors dominating the agenda. Businesses should not leave the steering wheel to third parties. The most effective way to get things done is to make it someone’s responsibility and measure the progress. Digital maturity quantifies digital transformation and makes progress measurable.

Understanding the value of digital transformation

Over the past year, the world has come to realise how important the digital revolution is. This has been exemplified in a number of ways. From a business perspective, staff have been able to work from home during lockdown, enabling continued operations during a challenging time for many industries. However, it doesn’t stop there. Multiple industries have utilised digital to remain operational: online shopping and last-mile-delivery, online education, digital citizen services, and even augmented fitness at home.

Becoming digitally mature allows organisations to future-proof their business. Something that became clear during the pandemic was that the ability to remain agile is paramount. Digital transformation enables this. Utilising cloud technologies gives enterprises the freedom and flexibility to work wherever and however it is necessary. From here, businesses can further foster a flexible culture, promoting a better work-life balance for employees.

However, as society climbs back to normal, many within the boardroom will understand that there are more benefits to digital transformation than remote working. Scalability is an essential factor. Technology is not bound to physical restrictions, digital services and solutions can be increased, enhanced and altered at a moment’s notice. This not only helps to keep organisations agile, but also provides the foundations of future growth.

These increased levels of scalability and agility combine to enable greater growth and profitability for businesses. Efficient and cost effective processes allow leaders to focus on wider business opportunities, and greater access to data produces better decision making, faster. Increased profit margins also give organisations increased resources available to implement changes that can further benefit the business, and a stable digital transformation strategy also keeps companies connected. Strong partnerships with other digital focused organisations complement all parties involved. Better opportunities present themselves and everyone continues to grow while keeping ahead of the competition.

Of course, when new customers, clients and partners are onboarded, digital services and solutions can then be scaled with ease. Digital maturity encourages steady, sustainable growth that delivers true business value.

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Becoming an iron-man organisation

Business is a long-distance sport. You need endurance for the long-term, but flexibility and speed for the short-term. These are traits of ironmen and ironwomen. They are multi-disciplinary. They can compete on various fronts. And they keep a fresh mind under the most difficult conditions.

Every board member and every senior executive would like to become like an ironman or an ironwoman, of course in terms of business performance. Digital capabilities give you these superpowers. Digital is light speed for the short-term, the real-time transaction. Digital remembers everything in the long-term: perfect memory, perfect analysis, perfect predictions.

In today’s business environment you need all these capabilities all the time. Digital maturity shows you where you are, how much of these traits you have, your digital strengths and opportunities, and how you will be able to thrive under these new competitive circumstances.

Written by Halil Aksu, co-founder and CEO of Digitopia

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