This is the definitive guide to digital transformation and innovation leadership for 2023.
In this guide you’ll learn about:
- Digital leadership ideas
- The role of leadership in digital transformation
- Future proofing winning agile leadership mindsets
- And much more!
- Innovative & transformational digital leadership ideas and fundamentals
- Post-covid digital era of leadership
- The role of leadership in digital transformation
- The future of customer experience
- Future-proof winning agile leadership mindsets
- The culture of digital business transformation
- Emerging technologies
- Digital innovation and the future of digital marketing
- Digital transformation trends & statistics
Introduction to Digital Transformation
Sooner or later, businesses are coming to grips with the need to grow, change, evolve and adapt to an omnipresent digital landscape. Call it as you like, but digital transformation is pushing businesses to step up their game in a growingly competitive market, with increased market disruption and start-ups and competitors challenging to be more innovative.
While digital transformation may not be new, Covid-19 and the surge of new technologies to facilitate remote work, automation and artificial intelligence have resulted in a new wave of innovation that can shake up business strategies, processes, operating models and customer service.
Digital transformation requires organizations to readjust their structure and strategies from top to bottom with increasing speed and urgency to keep up with customer, employer, and market demands. Choosing the right technology is only part of the puzzle. Instead, the changes brought by digital transformation require leaders who can leverage the possibilities from going digital to innovate, drive value, engage, and enhance workforce capabilities and fail fast in order to grow stronger.
Efficient digital leadership can be a major driving force in determining the success of digital transformation. So how do you know if a leader is prepared to drive digital transformation? Where do they begin? We’ll deliver key insights into leadership in this new digital landscape.
Innovative & Transformational Digital Leadership Ideas and Fundamentals
In this chapter we’ll introduce the importance of leadership when developing digital transformation strategies and how choosing the right technology and team are essential elements of this process.
Effective digital leadership is key to digital transformation
Numerous factors condition the success of a digital transformation strategy, but the core behind an efficient and game-changing implementation comes from effective digital leadership.
Leadership in times of urgent digital transformation bears little resemblance to past models. While in the past digitalization was a an important but not vital strategic element, today it is the number one priority for the most successful corporations.
Leadership is not only about efficiently managing resources, but also about guiding companies to new eras and maintaining them as pioneers in their niche. With 70% of digital transformation strategies failing, only 30% of leaders have detected how to design and act for success.
Nobody said that successfully adapting to a digital market environment and leveraging digital technologies was easy, and companies are likely to fail on the way, but the way their leaders adapt to change and strive to transform to survive can determine the future success of the company. Digital disruption is not a buzzword or a fad, it is happening, and the growing actions from companies to react to these changes are determined by the effectiveness of digital leadership.
Developing successful digital leaders is equally as important as finding and hiring them. A joint report from MIT and Deloitte showed that digitally mature organizations are more than four times more likely to be developing digitally mature leaders than less mature organizations. This includes deploying cultural changes to provide vision and purpose, creating conditions that favor experimentation and empowering people to think differently and subsequently collaborating to bolster innovation.
The stakes are high when delivering efficient leadership and successful digital transformation. Organizations operating at the vanguard of digital transformation are no strangers to leveraging technology and the expertise and efficiency of their leaders to create competitive advantage.
The sudden and unexpected changes brought by COVID-19 has altered the requisites needed from leaders. Today’s business and technology heads must be dynamic and change-oriented, with a key vision for a technology-driven future and the preparation to lead these complex and innovative transformations.
Technology can transform your business models
New technology is key to keeping a company at the forefront of their market. Technological advances allow companies to evolve and shape their future. Digital technologies are changing how products are made, processed, sold and delivered to their customers. Businesses can find new ways to target buyers and change their existing business models to find new sources of revenue.
These new technologies also redefine the demand for new skills and processes to deliver services. Additionally, new technologies can provide valuable amounts of data that can bring new opportunities to further understand customer habits and provide even better, more personalized services.
For many businesses, technology means automating processes and ultimately cutting costs and saving resources. However, if deployed efficiently, technology can deliver much more to businesses, and provide a competitive advantage in either cost or differentiation.
Leaders that can help their businesses discover a better technology for performing their principal activity than their competitors will be in a stronger position to attract new customers and retain current ones while saving costs and providing unique services.
Managers must articulate a powerful leadership narrative
Business leaders must lead as an example to build quality communities. To do so, they must define and articulate powerful narratives that unifies teams in a collective and ambitious mission.
To gain credibility during a transition to digital, leaders must evidently possess a certain level of digital savviness, but this is useless if these leaders cannot communicate this knowledge efficiently, and create a vision, purpose and message to justify these new strategies.
With workers increasingly coming from diverse backgrounds, locations, and cultures, it is important to tactfully emit a powerful story and narrative to unite the whole team in backing this transformation.
This narrative must not be confined within teams. Digital transformation is very much a holistic cultural event that affects an organization completely. This requires the whole organization to buy-in to the new cultural shift, and the establishment of a community of leaders among the C-suite who will oversee this change.
Align talent, leadership, and business strategies
Efficient leadership is a powerful asset, but it means very little if it isn’t backed by a powerful team and attainable business goals.
Alignment strategies are about putting the best people in the best positions to direct the business in the most successful way possible. This means having a clear understanding of business goals and KPIs, as well as knowledge of your team’s strengths and weaknesses in order to know how to build a competitive digital strategy, and an efficient team that shares the desire to move the organization towards these new goals.
The leaders most capable of carrying out this task are people-focused, collaboration-driven and future-oriented. They have scarce time to dwell on legacy processes and are aware of the importance of seeking innovation to maintain a competitive edge in an increasingly demanding market.
These leaders are also aware that they cannot do this alone, and in the same way they will need to convince fellow leaders to support new initiatives, they will need to focus on their employees and the customer rather than the brand, in order to meet new demands and optimize processes. Collaboration and agility will be key to achieve success in an ever-changing, fast-paced digital environment, where a lot will be at stake for companies and businesses that fail to take these new steps.
Post-Covid Digital Era of Leadership
This chapter will explore how Covid-19 has pushed businesses to accelerate their digital transformation strategies and how current and future leaders must redefine their approaches and values to adjust to these new times.
Digital transformation is clearly more than a mere trend, but a reality that is redefining business cultures and the market. If it wasn’t already launching businesses into an arms race to be at the vanguard of their market niches, Covid-19 has further accelerated the need for companies to deploy technology to not fall behind.
Covid-19 has changed the way people work, access & purchase services and communicate with brands.
Covid-19 has also highlighted areas of weakness within companies who had failed to establish continuity plans during the pandemic. Simply put, businesses were not prepared for moments of crisis, and this is a new factor where digital technology has shown that it can guarantee continuity when companies invest in optimizing their digital capabilities.
Companies have looked for ways to automate end-to-end transactions and contact centers in the absence of employees in order to guarantee services and maintain customer engagement.
Covid-19 has also accelerated many digital transformation policies that were underway, such as solutions that catered to growing demands for better customer experience, with automated, personalized, swift, omnichannel and 24/7 services. It has also raised awareness to the risk of future pandemics or risks such as climate change that can also affect operational continuity in the future.
Business leaders must find ways to strengthen their crisis management strategies amidst this new digital era driven by crisis.
New customer demands, government regulations, and security and safety standards have driven companies to deploy digital transformation strategies and look to new trends to be prepared to not make the same mistakes they made during the pandemic.
Emerging trends for leaders in a post-Covid digital era
During this moment of crisis, extra thought has gone into driving innovation to find solutions out of the crisis. Digital transformation is the basis of this innovation, affecting customer service, remote work with the deployment of technologies from automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and much more. But what trends are we seeing now that Covid-19 has disrupted how businesses work? Here we will highlight some key developments.
1. Leaders must adjust to Remote work – Dispersed teams and hybrid models:
Covid-19 introduced the reality of remote work. By the end of 2021, 25-30% of employees were working remotely. Even now that restrictions have gone down, the change in habit has pushed companies to deploy hybrid models where staff can alternate days in the office with working remotely.
As companies shift to these hybrid models, business leaders must be prepared to foment digital collaboration between employees and adjust their employee experience strategies accordingly. Additionally, cloud software, CRM tools and omnichannel capabilities must be guaranteed to ensure that employees can access important information wherever they may be.
2. Leaders must value the importance of Data:
As long as it is used legally and securely, data can be leveraged to deliver actionable insights that can be crucial to a company’s success. Where business leaders use data to track employees to ensure best practices or to monitor customer habits and behavior in order to provide more personalized services, business leaders must make the most of the data they have when making decisions.
3. Leaders must seek resilience along with efficiency:
Companies have a clear focus on streamlining workflows and processes to increase efficiency. While this is certainly productive, these systems often offered scarce flexibility to disruptions. This is why post-Covid business leaders must form a resilient organization that can respond to change in a flexible and scalable manner.
Roles and processes need to be designed to increase agility and flexibility. Additionally, employees who may fear being made redundant with process automations can actually be taught to adapt and be flexible to new roles with cross-functional knowledge training.
4. Leaders must not lose sight of new customer requests
While consumers were mostly confined at home, their activities were restricted, but new consumer habits arose. Technology played a key role in this. Consumers were able to stay connected, entertained, educated and even physically active with the help of apps, software, and devices.
Modern consumers are tech-savvy and have developed high expectations of the brands they interact with. Technological development is changing customer behavior as they increasingly seek interconnected, automated, and smart features. Business leaders must never lose sight of customer demands. With customer experience becoming a major brand differentiator, it is imperative that business strategies develop a customer-focused strategy.
The global Covid-19 crisis has transformed organizations and people alike. Employee habits have changed just as much as customer demands, but so too have the demands, values, and aspirations for next-generation leadership. Executives looking to invest in the future leaders of their organizations must understand the impacts and new attitudes of the next generation of talent.
Next-generation leaders, mainly Millennials (born from 1980 to 1995), are self-sufficient and flexible, meaning that while they adapt more easily to new roles and technologies, they are also more likely to change jobs and careers if they find something of greater interest or convenience. With many of them having suffered underemployment during the global financial crisis of 2008, a lot of Millennials have postponed milestone events such as marriage, having children or buying homes.
Gen Z’s (born from 1996 to 2010) on the other hand are digitally native. While they have suffered setbacks during Covid-19 as early career workers, they represent a new generation of more culturally inclusive, diverse, and environmentally and socially committed people.
Both these groups comprise the generation of workers who will most likely embrace and encourage remote work capabilities. With many workers also adapting to side gigs and multiple income streams, this is a generation that embraces micro-entrepreneurial jobs rather than stable full-time employment. With employee demands shifting, organizations must provide aligned values to these workers.
Apart from being digitally proficient, next-generation leaders must also be aware of new habits, values, expectations, and trends that can affect their teams. Next-gen leaders need to value the new flexibility remote work brings and find ways to effectively and transparently communicate with employees.
Workers used to immediate responses also require frequent and swift feedback. They also appreciate appropriate mentorship and training to face uncertain changes and technological disruptions. Digital natives are willing to learn, but next-gen leaders need to be capable of delivering appropriate mentorship.
The future values of leadership post-covid
The world has changed after Covid-19 and so too have businesses. Organizations need a different leadership style that is more flexible, visionary, engaging, compassionate, resilient, and empowering.
With the risk of further disruptions luring round every corner, there is a need for leaders who can deliver the right mentorship and make the best decisions to not only navigate through the turbulence of any crisis, but to learn on the way and come out stronger.
The next generation of employees are positioned to lead future businesses based on their ability to adapt to change, their commitment and their resilience. Most of them will find an ally in their quest to transform future enterprises: Technology.
The Role of Leadership in Digital Transformation
Digital transformation has brought new processes, values, and expectations into the fray. This chapter will provide insights into what leaders need to do to be effective digital leaders and guide their teams to success.
It is strategy, not technology that drives a successful digital transformation. Individual technologies should not overshadow operational strategies, and the responsibility for planning and overseeing this transformation lies on C-suite leadership.
Digital transformation involves the entire company and is led with vision from the C-suite, be it a CEO, CIO, CMO or any other newly created role.
With digital transformation focusing on customer-centric strategies, strong leadership is needed to initiate and manage this change. It is important that these leaders be digitally-savvy and possess clear knowledge of new tools and customer habits as well as communication skills to be able to direct their message to their employees.
With modern employees being quick to switch jobs, many are choosing companies that can deliver a worthwhile, on-the-job experience. The strength of their digital leaders and the digital tools they use, along with the ambition to be innovative and use cutting-edge technology, can nurture skill sets and be alluring for potential workers.
But how can a digital leader be effective?
How to be an effective digital leader
1. Develop talent for the future
Digital leaders can find success in digital transformation by developing workforce capabilities that can facilitate the transformation. This is done by reforming roles and responsibilities so that they align with new targets.
Digital leaders must bridge the gaps between traditional and digital factions of the business and be a focal point for stakeholders and other executives into new ways of working and investing in digital talent. This is why it’s important for digital leaders to possess communication skills in order to spread digital culture within the company.
2. Inspire others to embrace innovation
Digital leaders have a knack for keeping people connected and engaged. It isn’t always easy to encourage people to change old habits, but it’s the key to success. Digital leaders encourage other C-suite executives to deploy new ideas and look to the future. Again, this needs communication skills and the ability to reduce organizational resistance and drive change.
3. Leverage new technology
Digital leaders are the first movers when it comes to embracing new digital tools. This requires leaders to understand the technology thoroughly. Digital leaders need to monitor these technologies and know how to measure their success. Additionally, digital leaders need to be persistently looking for ways to reinvent themselves and find new revenue opportunities from new technologies.
4. Encourage collaboration
With workers increasingly working remotely, digital leaders need to embrace knowledge-sharing models and encourage teams to collaborate with each other, often with the assistance of tools such as CRM software.
5. Manage enterprise risk
Digital leaders are not afraid of failure, as it comes with the job and the role of constantly asking “what if?” and looking for innovation. However, these leaders need to ensure that enterprise risk is minimized with the digital initiatives they propose.
IT-related problems can affect a business’ reputation. Therefore, leaders must carry out risk assessments across the whole enterprise and have a holistic view of IT’s role in the organization.
6. Improve customer and employee engagement
Shifting customer behavior and habits are conditioning organizational change. Customers want instant and personalized customer journeys on the devices of their choice, and this engagement is essential to maintain brand loyalty. For many digital leaders, customers are their top business priority.
Digital leaders must always be informed on how customers make their decisions, what technologies they are using and how the company can leverage this technology to boost their own services and infrastructures, so that employees can work with these and address these new demands.
Employee experience is also important. Remote work has changed how workers communicate with colleagues and their employers. Digital transformation can also be deployed to improve employee experience and efficiency, for example, by using employee portals, cloud storage, online training, chatbots to help employees, and automation processes to reduce heavy workloads.
7. Establish Information Security
Digital leaders are responsible for setting standards and policies that protect IT across the enterprise and to ensure that these standards are met.
8. Explore new partnerships and collaborations
As not every digital initiative can be carried in-house, digital leaders seek relationships and partnerships with innovative parties as part of their digital transformation strategies. Part of being a change instigator is setting up the right networks of innovators and encouraging others to buy-in to the initiative.
Digital leaders know when to spot opportunities to use digital technologies and when to seek beyond traditional and conventional technology partners when innovative ideas, capabilities and solutions arrive that cannot be carried by their own business.
9. Lead purposefully
Digital workforces need businesses to respect their concerns and values for a digital transformation to be successful. It isn’t just a case of optimizing capabilities and creating new opportunities, but of readjusting an environment. Business leaders must be attentive to how their leadership is experienced, and decide which tools, technologies, and methods to deploy to make stakeholders, consumers and employees feel valued.
The Role of Leadership is going to be seen through different eyes
New leadership is going to be measured differently than in the past. Digital transformation has changed corporate culture from top-to-bottom and the strategies, objectives, KPIs and methods leaders need to deploy have also been modified to these new times.
Several features are bound to stand out: the importance of customer experience, employee culture, agile environments, and collaborative strategies to drive businesses into the future are fixed elements that business leaders must not take their eyes off if they want their business to succeed in transitioning from legacy models into prosperous digital enterprises.
The Future of Customer Experience
Customer experience has become a key brand differentiator, so businesses must find ways to excel in this field. This chapter explores how new customer habits are shaping digital transformation and the strategies leaders must implement to meet these demands.
Digital transformation has reshaped the focus of business strategies. Customer experience has become the main objective in business initiatives. In a widely competitive market, there are vast options for consumers to choose from, meaning that purchasing decisions often hinge on the slightest of differences.
Consumers no longer make their choices solely because of the price of a product, but because of their experiences with the brands. New technologies allow businesses to better understand consumer behavior and deliver actionable insights to improve products and services.
Creating engagement with customers is a business imperative, and this therefore requires integrating the entire business on a customer-focused strategy so that they can deliver value at every customer touchpoint. It is worth it too, because once consumers have an emotional connection with a brand, their lifetime value increases 306%.
Effective customer experience requires more than ensuring that customers receive their desired products and services. Customer experience is also about engaging with customers to grow a brand and nurture customer value in order to gain competitive advantage. With customer experience transforming along with new customer demands, what are the main features the future of customer experience holds for business leaders?
The importance of adding value to customer experience
There is a qualitative element to boosting customer experience, but many businesses fail to quantify the economic outcomes of investing to improve these experiences. Given that implementing a customer-centric strategy affects many business policies, it is important to add a quantified value to convince C-suite executives and build momentum to pursue this change.
Business leaders must comprehend the value that providing positive experiences can have on their bottom line. The statistics are there to justify these actions: Two-thirds of a company’s competitive edge comes from its customer experience, with 67% of consumers willing to pay more for a positive experience.
An unhappy customer can tell up to sixteen people about a negative experience and are 88% less likely to return, while loyal customers are five times more likely to buy again and four times more likely to refer a service to family or friends.
Customer value must therefore drive any tech planning, delivery, and communication to ensure that customers feel they are getting a service that is worthwhile.
A switch from legacy leaders to customer experience champions
Digital transformation is not a case of making minor adjustments to a company’s technology stack. It starts by changing legacy tactics and embracing innovation to spearhead a company into the future. It is also a matter of survival in a fast-paced and ever-changing digital world.
Businesses are increasingly competitive and seeking ways to increase innovation, speed, and adaptability. Up to 93% of companies agree that innovative technologies are required to reach digital transformation goals. Business leaders must choose the right technology in relation to their objectives. This means leaving behind legacy tools and processes that are oriented on past or recent customer needs but have little view to future requirements.
Digital business leaders need to guide companies through the transition to new services and technologies, restructuring IT-related operations and developing new mindsets within the C-suite and the entire organization. Amidst the changes, business leaders must shift from being product focused to customer-focused and orientate their activities on engaging customers and improving their experience by placing the customer at the center of strategic planning processes.
Encouraging employees and executives to change old ways isn’t easy, but business leaders must encourage fellow executives to collaborate in finding new ways to lead the company, reduce organizational resistance and challenge traditional hierarchical communication channels.
Implement customer-centric strategies
Customers are the main focal point when it comes to driving change within a business, who need to build and nurture new relationships with existing and potential customers. By effectively putting customers at the heart of their strategies, companies see an increase in customer lifetime value and a reduction in churn.
Customer-centric strategies look to provide positive customer experiences before and after a purchase to enhance customer loyalty and business growth. Offering good customer service is key, but it isn’t the only requisite in a customer-centric strategy.
Business leaders must create an organizational culture around the customer and their needs, with a genuine commitment in delivering customer value and in putting the customer and their experience at the core of a business.
This can be done by leveraging technology to help drive this change. User customer data can help to understand buying behavior and deliver personalized services with software that improves customer support and end-to-end interactions when it best meets the needs and demands these customers have. Needs like omnichannel, multilingual, and 24/7 capabilities.
Customer centric strategies require mastering human relations
Convincing an organization to restructure their culture from top to bottom can be difficult without having a knack for developing human relations. These human relations cover a wide scope of customers, C-suite executives, partners, and employees.
Employees are at the forefront of a business’ activities and their actions will shape the experiences customers encounter. Business leaders must have impeccable people skills and be able to foresee and hire or develop talent that is aligned with customer-centric thinking and who understand the value this has on business.
Data is becoming key when it comes to receiving valuable insights that can reshape business strategies. However, business leaders are going to have to put relationships first and not treat customers as mere quantifiable numbers that can be analyzed in performance reports. This will require really leveraging data to deliver personalized services, and one way of doing so is by democratizing customer data with CRM software to facilitate a more holistic and unified understanding of customer behavior and their experiences.
As business leaders need to bridge gaps between traditional and digital by giving voice to stakeholders and employees who want to integrate new digital methods, these leaders must have communication skills and the ability to manage teams and human resources to spread this digital culture across the whole organization.
This also requires the ability to foment collaboration between teams to avoid silos, as digital transformation should not limit itself to small facets of an organization but should instead be integrated to the entire culture and all the teams that compose the business. In order for this to be efficient, business leaders must build a culture that strives for continuous improvement, collaborating and sharing information with the right tools to ensure connectivity between teams, facilitating interaction between them and guaranteeing that processes and data are treated with transparency.
By being open to encouraging wider-scale communication within the enterprise, such as internal social channels, forums, blogs and portals, business leaders can help ensure this transparency and create a positive environment for change.
A new type of customer has brought a different kind of experience.
Establishing a customer-centric focus in every digital transformation strategy is imperative. A Gartner report showed that 89% of companies compete on the basis of customer experience. That figure is set to increase.
Business leaders are increasingly aware of the importance of customer experience too. According to a report from Deloitte, 57% of CIOs ranked customers as their top business priority. This focus transcends to any digital transform strategy and affects the entire C-suite, who must collaborate to build and incorporate the right technological capabilities and objectives with a focus on customer experience.
Customer demands are the main catalyst behind organizational change and digital transformation. In turn, customer experience is ever present in multiple technological innovations aimed at boosting revenues. In such a competitive landscape, consumers are going to continue valuing experiences over possessions, and this means that businesses will need to capitalize on new opportunities to deliver more personalized services, on multiple channels and designed to deliver experiences that can guarantee customer loyalty.
Futureproof Winning Agile Leadership Mindsets
Legacy management mindsets are a burden to companies wanting to keep up with the pace of an ever-changing market. This chapter showcases the importance of Agile leadership to forge strong organizations today and in the future.
Many companies find it hard to escape from legacy processes and to find new management models to help them advance. However, successful businesses are learning to be adaptable and flexible to the shifts of a dynamic customer-driven marketplace.
This focus on delivering customer value has changed how teams work, collaborate and interact, to remove silos and increase cooperation. It is, in short, an essential element for any digital transformation strategy. After all, digital transformation isn’t just about technology, it’s about business culture and the way an organization is run.
Agile leadership requires the ability to deliver instant, personalized value at scale, while allowing organizations to cope with continuous change. In an Agile organization, teams are persistently looking for new ways to create values for customers, and this is easier to do as they are in continuous interaction with these customers or leveraging the vast amounts of data, they have from each engagement with them. Rather than doing more work at a faster rate, Agile environments are about getting more value from the work that is done.
Customer experience must be frictionless, and this is done by reducing internal silos through collaboration. Top-down bureaucracies within organizations can make this collaboration difficult, which is why being Agile is key to ensuring success. Fostering a new community of leaders who have this Agile mindset can determine the future success of a business.
What are the characteristics of an Agile mindset?
As the name suggests, Agile teams must be as nimble as possible. This means that work should be done in cross-functional teams working in punctual tasks and constantly receiving feedback from customers to optimize their results.
With smaller teams, decisions can be made with less effort and obstacles, and it is easier for a group to think and act as a unit. However, most teams are extremely bureaucratic, and processes are often stalled due to the idea that stricter, top-down processes with individual responsibilities and scarce interaction were more efficient at large scale.
Agile organizations are also obsessed with customer experience and customer value. New technologies like the Internet have provided customers with a wider array of choices to make and information to find regarding products. Customers are now in charge and have acquired high demands on the services they want. They seek instant, personalized services that adapt to their demands and habits. Agile environments are quicker to provide these services and make changes, when necessary, while it is harder in top-down bureaucratic management environments.
Additionally, Agile teams consist of a transparent and collaborative network of employees seeking a common goal: boosting customer experience. These teams cannot be a minority within an organization but should comprise the business as a whole.
In businesses with conservative approaches to protecting their revenues when things are going right and not diving into innovation and risk, Agile teams can be seen as a problem. However, Agile teams transform organizations from one steady corporative engine, into an organic network of high performing teams that interact with each other to persistently grow and adapt with efficiency in a dynamic and ever-changing market. It is no longer just about senior management, but rather of members of a leadership community.
There is still a need for leadership in Agile organizations.
Despite their collaborative nature, Agile organizations are not horizontal or non-hierarchical. Top management still plays an important role directing the organization and driving teams for higher performance in a transparent environment where flaws are easier to detect.
Business leaders ensure that the organization functions with a clear view on adding value to the customer and within an interactive communication dynamic where ideas can arise from any front in a network. With this, the organization constantly grows and adapts to new opportunities.
Changes in the nature of business and digital landscape demand a new type of management
Traditional managers may be put off by the idea of Agile management. Firstly, it may seem harder for them to tell employees what they need to do, and they may initially find some of the principles of Agile management to be contradictory. How exactly does a company make higher revenue by not focusing on making money but rather on making customers happier? How can large complex issues be resolved by small teams? And how does a manager show that they are in control by allowing more flexibility to their team? This is because many managers still stand by the idea of control as a main virtue rather than the need to nurture teams and optimize them.
Legacy management practices pose a challenge to Agile management. Traditional managers may not feel comfortable stepping out of the norm, but ultimately, Agile is about embracing a different mindset and leveraging technology and new cultural norms to provide insights that can help companies thrive in the future.
Proficient leaders care about helping fellow managers and employees develop their strengths with a view to ensure a value-driven work environment. For this, business leaders need to encourage positive outlooks, creativity, proactivity, a desire to learn and grow and team spirit.
Leading in 2025: The future of leadership in the digital economy
Even before Covid-19 accelerated the need for businesses to transform their processes, many C-suite executives were concerned that their organizations were becoming too siloed and bureaucratic. Frankly, these organizations were bogged down in a world that is changing and at risk of being left behind. Their standardized world has been swapped for one with hyper-personalization, increased connectivity, and automation.
With today’s organizations being set up as traditional hierarchies, these structures show clear lines of authority, but these models don’t need to be fit for purpose in today’s environment. If anything, their mechanistic structure, based on control, bureaucracy, and uniformity contrasts with the new norms for creativity, nimbleness, and speed that Agile management represents.
Establishing this quality management needn’t be an arduous task. Managers can take small steps to implement true transformation using methods, for example, like the Kaizen approach. This approach advocates progressive change through quality management, collaboration, and continuous improvement.
While many managers, pushed by the urgency of Covid-19 and high competitiveness in digital transformation, have opted for implementing fast, radical change, the Kaizen method promotes a supervised, slower but constant evolution in the workplace.
By focusing on teamwork, personal discipline, improved morale, suggested improvement and quality circles, the Kaizen approach is a key attribute to Agile environments and could serve as a benchmark for future business leaders.
Major skills to excel in the workplace of the future
We are witnessing a fundamental shift in the way businesses work. With these changes, business leaders need to alter their approach to the workplace and acknowledge that technological shifts, such as the deployment of automation and artificial intelligence, also go hand-in-hand with the changes and disruptive modes reshaping the business landscape.
Improving the effectiveness of the workforce and harnessing the talents of workers is crucial for business leaders who want to prioritize a culture of continued learning within an organization. This will allow workers to remain agile in the face of disruption and build an engaged workforce that can drive innovation in the future through continuous learning.
Business leaders must possess certain skills to allow them to strive under these new circumstances. Amongst these, leaders must possess digital literacy. Covid-19 has accelerated the need for businesses to digitize work processes. Technologies like AI, Machine Learning and virtual reality are no longer futuristic concepts, but mainstream solutions gathering momentum and increasingly working alongside human employees who will need to have an understanding of these and other disruptive technologies. At the very least, employees will need to adapt to omnichannel, virtual collaboration skills as work-from-home or hybrid work models become the norm.
Business leaders will also need to sharpen their analytical skills. The proliferation of algorithms, big data and advanced analytics is partly to blame for this. With so much information at hand, the most proficient business leaders will be those who can leverage this data, analyzing it and evaluating it to produce better solutions.
The future workplace will have adaptable employees who can switch seamlessly between tasks and react swiftly to shifts in their work environment. Managers will need to embrace adaptability as well as possess the social intelligence to accommodate different styles of communication to connect, collaborate, communicate, engage and lead in different environments.
These strong leaders will need to know how to navigate disruption and capitalize on technologies to steer their company to the future. To do so, they must embrace adaptive and value-based leadership practices that will help them lead dispersed remote teams.
The ability to balance productivity with a new value-based leadership is aided by technology and agile organizations. Agile processes share leadership responsibility into smaller times that work faster, and leaders must exemplify this agility and provide daily guidance on their own development in order to future proof their agile mindset.
The Culture of Digital Business Transformation
Digital transformation is as much an internal process as a question of meeting customer needs and adopting new technology. This chapter details the cultural changes organizations must face when developing digital transformation strategies.
Digital transformation isn’t really about technology. The power of an efficient digital transformation lies in its strategy and its objectives. Behind this, there must be strong leadership and a culture that embraces change.
Technology is an efficient tool in reaching this change and carrying out these strategies. With business leaders needing to drive innovation and experimentation, technology, when used correctly, empowers employees and customers.
With digital transformation challenging business models, new technologies, such as mobile, cloud, IoT and Artificial Intelligence are providing vast amounts of data that can be leveraged by companies to profoundly change their business outcomes.
As connectivity becomes more pervasive, businesses are developing digital mindsets that drive a data-driven, customer-focused way of working. With such unprecedented access to data, business leaders need to determine how to approach and use data to stay ahead. Putting this data into the hands of workers can empower them to deliver improved services, products, and customer experience.
How employees collect, organize and process data can determine customer experience and business performance. Digital platforms and technologies can improve collaboration between departments and ultimately empower customers too.
Customers are increasingly demanding mobile, instant and personalized customer journeys. These interactions and vital to maintain brand loyalty, and business leaders must establish what technology they use and how they use it to improve their services and infrastructure while managing new workforce ecosystems triggered by new, agile mindsets.
Managing workforce ecosystems during digital transformation
The workplace is changing and so too are the preferences of employees. Mechanical, process-driven approaches to work have given way to team-based, project oriented, agile environments aided by technology and focused on speed, innovation, transparency, and relationships.
Due to these changes, business leaders are compelled to make new decisions on how to manage their workforces. Within this new ecosystem, leaders need to determine what workers they need for specific engagements and adapt them to the new, remote-friendly work environment we find ourselves in.
The new agile environment improves workforce ecosystems in numerous ways. Workers can look for opportunities beyond their geographical constraints and businesses have a wider scope to search for workers that meet their specific project demands.
Workers are developing new preferences, prioritizing flexibility and personalized experiences over job stability and security. Part of these new preferences include upgrading their skills, aligning lifestyle with work style, and should be supported within a workforce ecosystem.
Today’s younger workers have no qualms in changing jobs if their expectations are not met. Future generations are going to need to adapt to persistent new technologies and have developed a mindset that embraces autonomy, purpose and motivation. Employee’s value growing their skills and building career currency through experiences, rather than climbing the corporate ladder.
Due to this, business leaders must foster a culture that enables employees in order to retain them. Technology is a key instrument for enabling workforce ecosystems and enhancing value. Tools such as internal talent management systems can serve to enable employees, while data analytics, AI or machine learning can enhance value.
Organizations are also using technology to find the right talent for their business. Whether it’s using programs to parse job applications or using online labor platforms. In fact, 30% of Fortune 500 companies use online labor platforms to find the expertise they need.
These technologies benefit organizations by increasing their capabilities and access to resources while simultaneously helping workers develop and showcase their skills. Some technologies can almost become part of the workforce, providing assistance and carrying out end-to-end processes, such as chatbots. It is a business leader’s duty to determine which technologies fit best in their corporate culture and values and to leverage these capabilities to increase collaboration and the employee experience.
Organizational Culture in Digital Business Transformation
The way that people employees collaborate between teams, departments and organizations plays a significant role in the success of Digital Transformation.
Automation, collaboration tools and other technologies can help in decision making and delivering services, but it is essential to ensure that every member of a team understands the holistic objectives even when working in smaller teams.
Integrating new technologies is only part of digital transformation. A key process is redefining the organizational culture. Not every company accepts change easily, so business leaders must navigate between changing legacy company culture and technology to reach a plausible outcome. Establishing collaboration and good communication is also a vital process. In the end, culture can be equally as important as strategy.
Business leaders need to lead by example with transparency and open communication with workers, offering mentorship when necessary and being the key instigators for change. However, the empowered workforce is the heart of the company, so special care must be put in establishing a positive, cross-functional organization culture that seeks development and happiness for employees.
Creating a roadmap-bridge to an agile culture
When establishing an agile digital transformation, business leaders need to communicate clearly what they want to achieve with this transformation.
A roadmap defines the goals and the most important steps required to achieve this objective. It also serves to communicate and formulate the strategic thinking behind the change they are trying to promote.
Strategies build the bridge from the present to the future. So, roadmaps need to reflect the processes that will be carried out to achieve an organization’s new vision. This requires having defined goals and connecting this vision with the established strategy while communicating this with employees.
The first step when creating a roadmap is determining why the roadmap is necessary. Many digital transformation projects fail because there is no concrete reason to justify some of the deployments and decisions that are made, beyond “making a profit” or “using new technology.”
Once the reason behind this transformation is clarified, the next step is to specify what needs to be changed and how it should be done. This is most likely, where the role of cross-functional teams can be influential, as well as a clear description of the path that best suits the organization’s culture, values and processes.
Whether it’s seeking more agility or increasing collaboration, these steps should be delivered not only throughout teams but also across the entire C-suite and IT teams. This roadmap should promote a developed community culture within the organization.
Given that agile cultures are all about adaptability, even roadmaps can be changed with time and do not have to set in stone. But these roadmaps and flexible organizational designs should clarify what type of changes the organization needs and the structures that must be created to satisfy these demands with a focus on strengthening collaborative relationships.
Mastering collaborative relationships
By now the message is clear: collaboration is a key element to succeed as a company. Lori Beer, chief information officer at JPMorgan Chase stated it clearly, “Without mastering collaborative relationships, both inside and outside the company, we won’t produce the outcomes needed to win our customers’ business.”
A central element of effective leadership is mastering personal relationships to build trust and collaboration in the work environment. Proficient business leaders understand the power of technology and analytics, but also have the skills to unite people from diverse businesses and functions to reach common goals.
Great leaders inspire teams to continuously innovate and generate positive outcomes for customers and stakeholders. To do so, they create inclusive working environments that foster employee growth, relationship building, development and collaboration.
Work teams are different in a digital landscape. Workforce ecosystems are flexible, where employees have different roles in diverse environments. This dynamic approach requires trust and relationship-building capabilities to operate efficiently. Business leaders need to build relationships across silos to detect new opportunities and answer them swiftly.
Creating inclusive and collaborative work environments that are centered around the employee, empowering them to talk about issues and reach their goals while continuously developing is a responsibility modern business leaders need to embark on.
Collaborative relationships drive better results and help build vibrant working environments where new perspectives can come together to deliver diverse and innovative results. In a market where digitally savvy workers have a wide array of options to choose from, companies need to guarantee mutually beneficial relationships to attract and maintain quality employees.
Business leaders with a game-changing mentality are those that strive to be purpose-driven and performance-focused while sticking to principles. The same applies for digital transformation.
Leadership effectiveness in a digital economy
Digital leaders need to be able to grasp changes very quickly and be capable of empowering their workers swiftly while providing them with all the tools and resources for them to carry out their tasks efficiently. It is no longer feasible to establish twenty-year plans without considering that disruptors can alter a strategy and that flexibility is an imperative.
Business leaders understand that they live and work in ecosystems, where long-term success is also determined by how you engage, support, and empower your workers in the ecosystem that surrounds you.
Business leaders will undoubtedly find challenges when carrying out their digital transformation. From legacy executives who lack the understanding of the need to deploy change, to hiring policies that reward behavior that prevents a company to innovate and change, business leaders need to overcome hurdles to succeed.
This means using solutions that create value for employees and customers. Business leaders must lead by example, proactively designing talent policies and having personal tact when managing their teams.
The effectiveness of future business leaders will be determined by how they articulate a powerful leadership narrative, being a role model for new leadership and identifying future leaders.
The stronger the community of business leaders prioritizing transparency and trust, the more efficient the outlook for driving the company towards a successful future. Employees need to see this drive and believe in their leaders. Workforce ecosystems will thrive when talent, leadership and business strategies are aligned with skills and mindsets that are collaborative, while leveraging technologies and data to ensure that the outcomes are optimal.
Great leaders will appreciate the power of technology and analytics but must also have the skills and mindsets to bring together diverse businesses to deliver superior customer outcomes. Inclusion and diversity aren’t just desirable, it must be demanded, as it is essential to promote an evolving and changing nature to the workforce, and the creation of an environment that creates a sense of belonging to every worker.
This chapter explores how digitization is changing business processes, services and customer experience and the benefits it delivers to organizations.
According to Gartner, digitalization is the “use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities”
However, digitalization cannot take place without digitization. In short, digitization is the basis of digitalization. It is the transformation of analogue processes to digital ones, and this is done with the use of technologies that boost productivity, work processes, services, and customer experience.
Digitizing customer experience
Customer experience is key for every organization. Businesses are using their customer experience as an asset that can attract customers and save resources by reducing complaints and increasing brand loyalty. The investment is worthwhile, but it isn’t always easy to implement digital strategies to customer experience and reinvent customer journeys.
Digitization and reinvention go hand in hand. Because merely digitizing legacy processes rarely delivers results that are truly worthwhile. This is why business leaders need to possess the right skills to define and drive change within the enterprise.
Once a business has defined the experience they want for their customers, they can determine the processes and technologies required to carry this out.
Understanding the importance of customer experience is one thing. Delivering it efficiently is another story. Transforming customer experience means reimagining the whole journey, even if it means thinking outside the box. Business leaders need to surround themselves with user-experience experts who know how to design the process and inspire employees to embrace it and, importantly, to receive important customer feedback.
Gaining multiple perspectives strengthens the development of a successful customer experience. Business leaders can mobilize agile, cross-functional teams, to help build a strategy, with each member assuming responsibility for decision-making in their field. This approach encourages collaboration and unites experts with diverse functions, engaging them from the start.
While workers and experts make decisions within the cross-functional team, business leaders oversee the strategic decisions and shield the team from elements in the organization that may put resistance to these new developments.
The newly designed and tested customer experience will then require an investment in technology infrastructures. These infrastructures should be as flexible as possible and be able to function across multiple channels. Omnichannel capabilities are a major demand by customers, but they mustn’t expose the performance of existing systems and programs.
Integrating new processes and technologies with legacy systems can be challenging, so questions must be asked about how essential these changes are. Quality assurance and user-acceptance testing are processes that are required to understand whether a proposed new process is necessary or not.
If it is clear that a process is necessary, business leaders must oversee the deployment of the processes and manage the teams responsible for the processes. Even then, however proficient the solution may seem, if customers don’t use it, the effort is futile. Successful digital adoption projects analyze customer pain points and understand the obstacles that may prevent digital transformation. Business leaders need to feature heavily in this process and establish a comprehensive plan that is backed by a stable budget.
With this, the successful digitization of customer experience must ensure that customers are fully satisfied with their experience and that their needs are addressed efficiently. This means seamlessly tending to their needs on multiple channels, in the language of their choice and delivering tailored and targeted messages with the data that new technologies provide, to make appealing offers, discounts and upsells
The focus on customer-centric solution and team building should be fully compensated with the delivery of a proficient customer experience that boosts customer retention and loyalty as well as creating value for an organization.
This strategy and subsequent digitization of customer experience must be monitored, measured, iterated, and refined, to understand the efficiency of this transformation.
Digitizing products and services
Digitizing products and services require more than selling products on digital channels. A new goal is to envision new innovations to launch digital products and, very importantly, find ways to optimize customer experience for the use of services and products that already exist.
For business leaders, this means envisioning what digital changes can make a service or product more appealing, and easy to deliver while improving its value.
Services can be new and completely innovative while tailored to customer demand or they can also be modifications of existing, traditional products or services. An example of a disruptor that modified a traditional service to a new digital platform with great success was, for example, Netflix.
But how can organizations overcome resistance and embrace the change digital products deliver? It needn’t be as risky as many business leaders may think. Data-driven insights can deliver actionable information on an organization that can guide decision making with quantitative support to justify choices. That doesn’t mean that risk taking should be avoided. Part of digital transformation, like every learning curve, includes failing, just as long as you fail fast. This relays again to the importance of agility.
Business leaders shouldn’t be afraid to think outside the box and to design products that are different to traditional services. In the end the digitization of products is an approach to seek innovation and agility and using technology to reach these ends.
Digital products and services need to be digitalized effectively, in ways that keep customers satisfied and interested in the service. Seeing that customers want quick and seamless digital experiences, delivering integrated customer experiences with digital products responds to their expectations while opening new opportunities for further innovation with the use of customer data.
Cross-functional teams, ranging from IT to marketing and customer service, need to be involved in the end-to-end customer experience- Data models need to be established to improve decision-making, customer insights and performance tracking, and business processes that have been redesigned can include automation to speed up processes and operations, just as long as there is a clear understanding of the customer’s needs and goals.
Digitizing company operations and processes.
When businesses adapt to digital transformation, digitizing operations has gone together with process automation.
Digitizing operations is a necessity for businesses today. Multiple tasks are carried out by employees within a specified schedule. These processes can be operational processes, management processes or support processes.
Customers want their services delivered under certain circumstances. In particular, they want it quick, easy and seamless. Customers who have gotten used to using services like Google and Apple expect similar digital experiences from all products and services instantly. This ·impatience is also reflected when they need customer service. Customers do not like having to repeat details over and over again, and yet they often use different channels to contact brands. This is why it is important to have seamless omnichannel integrations to facilitate these interactions, or the automation of repetitive processes.
Not every company, especially traditional ones, can meet these customer demands. This allows those innovative organizations who are capable of digitizing business processes the opportunity to compete in the market and win new customers.
Many organizations use digital technology to optimize their channel coordination by integrating them into a seamless experience that aligns customer behavior and preferences.
With many customers dedicating their brand loyalty to businesses that have implemented user friendly interfaces, multichannel and multi-language offerings, constant availability and personalized services, the level of scrutiny is increasing on companies to deliver consistent and flawless service. This trend is not going to die down. Instead, customers are going to seek better quality user experiences persistently, which is why it is vital for business leaders to modernize their processes.
In order to meet these new demands, business leaders will need to do more than just automate their current business processes. True, automated processes will progressively carry out most business operations, but the complete automation method needs to be readdressed to include automated decision-making procedures.
The use of data will also play a key role in the digitization of business processes. New data models will need to be developed to ensure swifter and easier decision-making and to provide key customer and performance insights.
By removing manual processes and replacing it with software, businesses can automatically collect data that can be mined to optimize performance and detect potential pain points.
The use of Big Data, Advanced Analytics and Business Intelligence can deliver customized dashboards and real-time reports that can help managers make strategic decisions based on facts and statistics.
Digitizing employee communication channels
Business leaders have a major role to play as businesses begin to prioritize digital processes. Firstly, they must have a clear idea of what these processes mean, as digitalization can be quite ambiguous and affects different sectors and facets of an organization.
While there is a clear consensus that digital transformation is essential for every business, business leaders must make the most of the opportunities to improve their organization by using technology across their channels, operations, and products. This digitalization can lead to a better integrated, agile, customer-centric focus across the enterprise.
Building an organization’s digital acumen requires developing a baseline understanding of new technologies. Workers who understand and appreciate the importance and opportunities technology provides to an industry and to customer experience are better equipped to identify and provide innovative product and service improvements.
Improving channel coordination does not only boost customer experience but also improves communication across the organization. Different channels and media can be used to better engage stakeholders, managers and employees externally and internally, therefore enabling employee-to-employee networking and collaboration.
With most digitization efforts turning to automation or focusing on increasing the productivity of labor-intensive business processes, corporate functions such as customer service and supply chains are witnessing positive changes. Business leaders need to identify which digital tools can help their teams work more efficiently. This can range from software that improves marketing management, delivers knowledge management, boosts team collaboration, manages workflows or optimizes customer service with conversational AI and chatbots.
The home office culture has given the need to digitize internal communication an extra push. Social intranet, wikis with knowledge bases, messenger apps and email newsletters are just other digital solutions that can be used to digitize employee communication channels.
The ability to communicate within a company and all its departments is essential to a company’s success. Digital channels play an important role in achieving this by closing communication gaps between departments and delivering swift messages in real-time, while also attracting younger, digitally savvy talent to the organization.
Digitization will continue to feature heavily in organizational strategies
Covid-19 has accelerated a process that was already underway. Companies have been adapting their internal organization to quickly digitize processes that had been planned to have changed over months or years. The objective is still clear: paving the way for a better organization.
This will require a revision of all the key processes and the mapping of internal and external dependencies along with IT infrastructure to justify each decision and formalize a digitalization agenda.
Efficient digitization can provide a competitive advantage that sets companies apart from their competitors and frees up resources to increase productivity, reduces errors and paves the way for swifter, smoother workflows.
Optimizing processes with digital technology doesn’t only boost productivity, it can improve internal structures and enhance collaboration and accessibility in the workplace.
With Covid-19 providing more obstacles due to remote work, employees can access their data or desktops from multiple channels more flexibly. This flexibility can be leveraged by companies to improve their agile teams by broadening the scope of the talent they incorporate and succeed in having diverse teams that can improve problem-solving and insight delivery.
The biggest obstacle to digitization will always be resistance to change. The disruption of organizational structures may challenge traditional methods and require the installation of digital governance to determine roles and responsibilities as well as communication strategies to guarantee that employees are well informed of the changes lying ahead, thus increasing the acceptance rate of this transformation.
It is vital to not lose sight of the changes and impacts digital transformation will have on the company’s workforce, but if the right steps are taken, they can encourage the company-wide adoption of a digital learning culture with the help of emerging technologies.
Emerging Technologies – ABCs
Emerging technologies have the ability to transform markets and business operations – if only business leaders were less skeptical of using them. This chapter explores three emerging technologies that are already making their presence known in the current market as key disruptors.
Digital transformation requires changing people’s roles, objectives, and strategies. Business leaders have the role of instigators of change who need to convince other leaders to buy-in to the cause. Business leaders can often be skeptical of the benefits of emerging technologies or may not be aware of the latest trends.
Digital business leaders are updated in technological innovation and know how to convince stakeholders to situate digital transformation as a key priority and not consider emerging technologies as a vogue. With 76% of businesses investing in emerging technologies, there is little time left to speculate.
The last decade has seen the introduction of new technologies that are fully transforming several industry verticals. For example, Bitcoin, blockchain, and peer-to-peer cash systems have been described as disruptors that have “transformed how the economy works.”
Customers are continuously changing their habits and demands. They network differently, and additionally, unforeseen crises such as Covid-19 can force new changes that can alter how products are seen and consumed. Essentially, disruptors and emerging technologies facilitate processes, provide solutions and remove barriers for consumers.
Of the many emerging technologies of the last decade, three in particular stand out.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence has become an imperative for businesses seeking a competitive edge. The opportunities AI can provide are vast, with companies being able to leverage the massive amounts of data they possess and process them to provide smarter and quicker solutions.
AI tools can continuously learn and make decisions thanks to the way that Machine Learning (ML) can use data to detect patterns to avoid errors and improve an experience.
Software algorithms can automate complex decision-making tasks to act in a similar way to the human brain. This can be used for a wide array of outcomes, such as image recognition software to scan and diagnose or car accidents; conversational AI and chatbots, voice recognition software, smartphone, and virtual assistants, to self-driving vehicles.
Artificial Intelligence is increasingly being used in the marketing industry too. Given that AI can swiftly deliver complex campaigns, Machine Learning capabilities can carry out statistical analysis far quicker than humans can. When performing tasks such as programmatic advertising and SEM campaigns, automatic bidding can save much time and resources. It is no surprise that 83.9% of all digital display transactions in the US were automated even before Covid-19.
Voice assistants and chatbots that combine conversational AI capabilities with Natural Language Processing (NLP) are changing the way that people search for products and services online. This was further enhanced when people were confined at their homes during the pandemic.
Marketers can use this to optimize their campaigns to align them with new customer demands and search behaviors in multiple devices and languages that adapt to customer trends. We have seen how Machine Learning depends on data, and AI can use data efficiently to understand what customers are talking about and use predictive analytics to deliver insights into future purchase intentions.
The use of algorithms and AI can help synthesize large quantities of data and automate processes to deliver quick results, assist staff, reduce errors and provide insights. However, business leaders must understand that AI works best in collaboration with human staff and not as a replacement for employees.
Bitcoin brought an increased interest in blockchain, the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies that redefined the concept of currency and disrupted the financial system. However, not every company is aware of the functions blockchain can provide, but it won’t be long before it is adopted at a grander scale.
Simply described, blockchain is a method for recording transactional information. Instead of keeping a centrally localized record of all transactions, blockchain distributed each transaction in nodes within a network, improving transparency and ensuring no single point of failure.
A blockchain collects information in groups with certain storage capacities that, when filled, are chained to previously filled blocks forming a “blockchain.” All information that follows the freshly added block is added into a new block and the chain continues.
While a database structures data into tables, blockchain structures data into nodes that are chained together. This creates an irreversible, transparent, and decentralized timeline of data.
While blockchain is associated with monetary transactions, it is also a reliable way to store data for other transactions too. Many companies are incorporating blockchain within their digital transformation strategies over several industries.
Food Trust blockchains, for example, are being used to trace the journey that food products take to reach their destinations. This gives brands the ability to track a product’s route from its origin, through every stop, until its delivery, so that they can track any possible contaminations and identify everybody who has been in contact with the product.
Financial institutions clearly benefit from blockchain, as it guarantees 24/7 transaction processes, and allows customers to see these transactions swiftly and seamlessly. Banks save resources as the money spends less time in transit, while consumers also save money in bank fees.
Healthcare providers can use blockchain to store patient records, providing patients with the confidence that their records cannot be changed once they have been signed and ensuring their privacy, and this process can also be used when generating smart contracts that can eliminate the fees and processes usually carried out by third-party mediators.
Blockchain has seen its share of public scrutiny, but many practical applications for the technology are being explored thanks to the name it has made for itself with bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Its security, privacy and transparency will most likely make blockchain a key deployment in many industries seeking more accurate, secure, cheaper and efficient business operations with fewer middlemen.
3. Open Hybrid Cloud
Nearly every organization is finding itself in a race to become digital and to find competitive differentiation. Organizations are looking to different fronts to accelerate change. Open Hybrid Clouds are becoming very relevant.
Cloud platforms are a central piece of most businesses’ digital transformation strategy, as organizations turn to the cloud to increase agility, improve planning, support creativity, and drive innovation and collaboration while streamlining operations and reducing costs.
During this process, organizations are increasingly turning to hybrid cloud strategies. These strategies leverage both public and private cloud solutions, balancing the benefits of public clouds like innovation, agility, collaboration, and scalability with the private benefits of security, compliance, and cost effectiveness.
Whether organizations are looking for subtle implementations or end-to-end transformation, open-source technology and hybrid cloud have emerged as essential components of their digital transformation strategies.
Cloud transformations can take their time, but an approach based on open standards helps mitigate risks from technology as business needs develop. Open source foments community collaboration, transparency and trust, and open hybrid cloud strategies embody the open and agile ethos needed for modern business to strive.
AI, blockchain and cloud solutions are key technologies that are driving digital transformation. These technologies can converge and develop new business models, where autonomous processes can be carried out and stored on the cloud with transactions that are carried out using blockchain. It is just one more example of the convergence of multiple technologies to enhance business models and optimize the digital transformation of organizations.
Digital Innovation and the Future of Digital Marketing
This chapter delves into the features and technologies that are shaping the future of digital marketing and how leaders must leverage these to build successful teams and strategies.
Over the years digital marketing has changed and businesses have also altered the way they interact with customers and how leaders interact with their workers.
Business leaders must be capable of influencing the people around them to guarantee alignment and effective communication within the business. This rings true in every industry sector, but it is particularly prevalent in the marketing industry.
Digital transformation may affect marketing similarly to other departments, but this is particularly a sector that is renowned for embracing internet and digital technologies and developing customer-centric strategies. Marketing departments should not be complacent in their pursuit for innovation and actively seek digital excellence and the optimization of their digital channels to meet customer needs. It is also a department that thrives on using valuable data to improve services, products and listen to what the customer wants.
To make this change, marketing leaders need to assess their marketing tools and channels and refine them. This includes analyzing the corporate website, social media, analytics platforms, automations tools, customer databases, customer service and advertising platforms, and making sure that all the systems work together and are communicating with each other, be it with Customer Data Platforms, Customer Relationship Management software or Media Planning.
Digital marketing has ultimately changed the way businesses interact with customers and how team leaders communicate with their employees. Business leaders are aware of the importance their influence has on the organization as well as of the need to ensure alignment and good communication.
Leadership is now the strongest marketing strategy
In such a highly competitive market, the line between success and failure is usually determined by how the public sees a brand. Good leadership is vital to develop market strategies that focus on the customer instead of simply the branding.
The decisions on what marketing strategy to implement, and how the business is going to be perceived by customers is determined by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).
Market strategies are directly targeted at customers and provide the first insights into what the brand is and the message they want to give. Leaders define the mission, the objectives, and the vision of an organization as well as how they are going to focus on their employees and customers.
It is the CMO who must create relationships between employees and the customer. To do this, CMOs must encourage collaborative relationships with employees that work around complexities and establish alignment. These aligned teams are at the forefront of building strong relations with customers.
Marketing leaders must anticipate customer needs to create end-to-end experiences that require analysis and thorough understanding of client demands.
A leader’s communication and empathy go a long way in digital marketing. Clients demand personalized approaches from their brands and CMOs need to find ways to tap into the customer base and predict customer experiences and lead a purpose-driven brand instead of brand focused one. With the help of data, marketing leaders can understand shifting customer trends, target relevant market segments, and use the channels their customers prefer.
Shifting businesses understand the need to develop customer-centric strategies and use the newest technologies, and the starting point for reaching out to these customers with the best technology will come from the marketing department and the leaders who are overseeing them. Marketers are no strangers to digital disruption, but what are some of the new technologies and trends they need to be aware of?
Today’s customer experience is predominantly omnichannel. Customers want a seamlessly connected experience over a variety of channels, so that if they have to leave one channel for whatever reason, they can easily pick up where they left and continue their journey of the device and channel of their choice.
Businesses with the strongest omnichannel experiences retain 89% of their customers on average, compared to the 33% retention rate for companies with weak omnichannel customer experience.
Businesses are investing steadily in omnichannel as they see that consumers are using multiple devices that are interconnected with cloud services. 83% of consumers already demand that they want to be able to switch between channels when talking to a brand, and 89% of customers confess to having very little patience if they have to repeat their questions to customer service agents because they haven’t been able to seamlessly track their journey.
Of all the channels customers like to use, mobile capabilities are essential. A fifth of website traffic comes from these devices, which explains why 84% of customer-centric companies focus on the mobile customer experience.
Marketing leaders must be careful to not overlook the importance of omnichannel, as customer expectations shape digital priorities, and it is very hard to regain the confidence of a dissatisfied customer. Omnichannel capabilities, with a focus on mobile, should be central when refining a digital transformation strategy.
2. Voice search
Conversational AI and Natural Language Processing is gaining increasing popularity in digital transformation strategies. With the surge in use of smart voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant, voice search has gradually become a part of many people’s day to day lives.
Whether it’s at home to play music or turn down the lights, or at work to schedule meetings, the fact that there are over 110 million virtual assistant users in the United States alone is proof of the technology’s popularity. By 2023, it is predicted that the number of digital voice assistants in devices worldwide will reach around eight billion units.
Voice search has become a key component in the smart device industry. With the growth of artificial intelligence, machine learning and NLP, businesses are looking at voice-enabled devices with a keen eye. A survey by Adobe found that 91% of business decision makers were already making significant investments in voice.
Brands must be quick to establish a strategic approach that embraces voice search. Integrating voice search into business operations can improve interaction with end users, and boost customer personalization, to help businesses gain a competitive edge.
Voice search can boost marketing efforts by providing actionable insights that can then be used to improve services and create personalized strategies. If voice search is applied to chatbots, they can improve customer experience by providing support to human agents and solving repetitive customer queries. The insights they gather can also be used to upsell or to deliver remarketing campaigns. Introducing voice search can help increase customer-engagement, reduce errors and lower operational costs.
It isn’t just customers who benefit from voice search. Businesses can use voice technology and chatbots in the office too. Voice-enabled bots can help boost productivity. A study from Gartner estimates that digital assistants will recover up to 6.2 billion employee hours thanks to the automation of redundant tasks that free space for human agents to focus on more complex tasks.
Integrating voice assistants to fetch and process data can also facilitate data-driven decision making, schedule making, and agenda management.
With consumers wanting faster, more accurate responses, voice search has the potential to transform how consumers use products and services. Hands-free operation allows consumers to multi-task and interact with devices on the go, in the language of their choice and at any time of the day.
Businesses from multiple industries like retail, automotive, healthcare, finance, education, and insurance are using conversational interfaces that are guided by voice search and the number is only likely to increase.
3. Visual search
Visual search is one of the lesser-mentioned forms of search, but it has been around for a number of years and has been integrated into numerous popular search engines including Google, Pinterest, Bing, and Snapchat.
Visual search uses AI technology to help people search the use of imagery rather than through text or voice search. For example, if a person takes an image of an object, visual search software can identify the object in the picture and provide information to the user.
Visual search combines computer vision and machine learning technology to allow machines to see and interpret what they are seeing before deciding what to do with this information. By cross-referencing images, machine learning ensures that each time, the visual searches are more reliable and accurate.
This technology is particularly useful in retail industries but may soon expand to other variants such as automobiles, education and even healthcare.
4. AR & VR: Immersive Technologies
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) allow consumers to combine the digital and physical world by taking information and content visually and mimicking the real world. This enhances the way devices can help in activities like shopping, entertainment and searching for information.
The growth of the technology during the Covid-19 pandemic has been substantial. Virtual reality headsets, for example, which replace reality with a 3D digital environment, are useful for training in extreme environments without posing any real-life risks.
In the case of augmented reality, where digital content is overlayed on top of the real world, the use cases are broader, with augmented reality headsets providing a hands-free environment.
Several industries can benefit from this technology, such as manufacturing, education, remote assistance, and training. During training, skilled workers can record processes and workflows which new employees can follow in a safe environment.
More recently, the healthcare sector has also been using mixed and augmented reality to work on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic, shining a light on the importance of hands-free, interactive technology.
Reviled by some, chatbots have gained increased popularity over the years due to their efficiency in helping solve repetitive questions, assist human agents, and carry out end-to-end transactions.
Chatbots allow humans to interact with technology via numerous input methods such as voice, text, or gesture at any time of the day, in numerous channels and in multiple languages.
While usually being associated with customer service, chatbots can now be used in various roles within enterprises to optimize customer experience and business processes.
While most rule-based bots have fallen out of favor, AI driven bots that use Machine Learning and NLP, and hybrid models that combine AI with linguistic models are far more efficient. This way, chatbots have a linguistic basis that allows them to maintain contextualized interaction that usually takes longer to learn with algorithms and machine learning.
Conversational AI and chatbots combine excellently with customer engagement and personalized, omnichannel services. With the help of Robotic Process Automation (RPAs), chatbots can automate repetitive tasks and allow human agents to focus on the more complicated ones. The data these chatbots register can also be used to provide personalized offers and better understand customer habits.
Chatbots can be used in numerous sectors from healthcare, e-commerce, telecoms, automobile, travel, finance and insurance to name a few, and are an efficient way of improving customer journeys and increasing brand loyalty.
New technologies have transformed customer habits. Apps, mobile devices, automation, virtual assistants and more have accustomed customers to get what they request swiftly and seamlessly.
With this, customer expectations have changed, as these digitally savvy consumers have begun to rate their experiences with brands on if and how these businesses delivered on the digital customer experience.
The way that businesses interact with their customers’ needs to be reconsidered, due to this digital-first, customer-focused approach.
Personalized services keep in mind the needs, habits, and preferences of customers so that businesses can market the right product and experience to each person at the best time, creating more meaningful interaction and enhancing brand loyalty.
Sales teams, for example, need to replace the outdated habit of cold calling with social selling. Given that customers are so active on social media, this is where sales teams should contact customers on these channels and build a relationship with them by sharing content that is relevant to them.
Similarly, customer service teams no longer need to wait for an actual phone call to understand what customers think of their service, as review sites, forums and social media are now an integral way of listening to your customer.
For marketing teams, going digital also means spending less time on offline marketing campaigns such as billboards, radio, and television. Customers want targeted messages, and modern marketers have excelled at using data-driven marketing strategies to reach these customers, albeit through account-based marketing and remarketing, or email-marketing, among others.
Modern consumers want to be treated as unique individuals, and this requires brands to know their preferences and purchase history. A study by Accenture revealed that 75% of customers were more likely to buy from brands that recognized them by their name, knew their purchase history and recommended products based on their past purchases.
However, many businesses and marketers still struggle with personalization. In order to deliver tailored messages, marketers must leverage first-party data, which is the most reliable data you can get on a customer as it is explicitly volunteered by them.
Customer journeys can be personalized through ad content, landing pages, emails, alerts, or recommendations. There are touchpoints for marketers to work on, and the benefits are palpable.
With 89% of e-commerce enterprises investing in personalization, consumers are more likely to become repeat buyers after receiving personalized experiences with a brand. Personalization drives sales, increases purchases, and boosts ROI, with advanced personalization offering a $20 dollar return for every $1 spent.
Marketers need to invest wisely in personalization. Traditional market segmentation has been replaced by detailed data-based personalization where brands customize experiences based on customer preferences and needs and communicating accordingly.
Several technologies can deliver personalized digital marketing. We have already seen the role chatbots can have in offering fast data retrieval and enhanced interactions with customers, delivering personalized messages, and assisting human agents. AI in general is becoming an increasingly effective way for marketers to deliver personalized services to increase brand loyalty and stay ahead of the curve.
7. Conversational Marketing
As its name implies, conversational marketing is marketing that talks to consumers. Live chat, voice assistants, chatbots and other forms of conversational AI can be used for this means, positioning these experiences on websites, social media, home devices and even in physical stores.
Conversational marketing lets businesses turn traditional marketing materials into interactive experiences. By incorporating conversational interfaces into paid advertising campaigns, websites, customer service, e-commerce and other channels, relationships can be strengthened, and the customer funnel can be refined to deliver better results.
Being able to deploy conversational AI at any point of the funnel enhances customer experience and transforms their relationship with your brand, by providing all the features they desire to not only give them what they need, but help them make better choice by leveraging omnichannel, personalization and past purchases to provide experiences that will make customers want to return to your brand.
Personalized conversations have the power to build customer relationships and increase loyalty. It is also a perfect opportunity to receive two-way conversations with customers and receive valuable feedback. The first-party data generated from these conversations should be routed directly to CRM-based customer profiles.
This has become a necessity in order to improve funnels, and if done accordingly and with the adequate platforms, conversational marketing can deliver more personalized, omnichannel and multilanguage capabilities to deliver optimal experiences.
8. Predictive and Augmented Analytics
Marketers leverage data to understand and optimize campaign effectiveness. As marketing analytics has evolved, marketers are using data-driven media planning and leveraging it with predictive analytics to stay ahead of consumer trends and remain competitive.
Data is an essential factor in marketing and improving customer experience. Predictive analytics allows marketers to understand consumer behaviors and trends and predict future shifts so that they can plan their marketing campaigns effectively.
Predictive and augmented analytics leverage AI and machine learning to generate insights via various algorithms, datasets and models and predict future behaviors. The information delivered from predictive analytics help marketers determine future trends and design better marketing strategies
There are numerous ways that marketing leaders can incorporate predictive marketing analytics into campaigns to improve their effectiveness.
Firstly, the insights from predictive analytics can help understand consumer interests and behavior based on their past interactions. This helps marketers deliver targeted messaging at the time, language, device, and channel that best suits the customer.
As predictive analytics identifies the channels and times that demand increased marketing spend, marketers can optimize their resources and better manage their ad spend. Additionally, they can qualify and prioritize leads thanks to the insights into consumer behavior that these analytics capabilities can provide. By better understanding the customer, predictive analytics can ultimately help in retaining customers while providing better upselling and cross-selling opportunities.
Marketers can manage all these insights in unified marketing platforms that gather data from multiple sources and integrate them in one place, correlating and synchronizing this data to receive insights on market trends, consumer behavior and engagement. When combined with AI and Analytics software, these platforms can offer automated reviews and forecasts and personalized content.
Marketing automation uses technology to streamline marketing processes and boost their efficiency. Automation platforms can manage transactions over different channels and save resources for teams that are often overwhelmed by customer demands.
It isn’t just customer service that can automate processes though, with consumers increasingly turning to self-service methods to carry out their transactions, purchases or requests, automation makes it easier to tend to these customer needs without the need for human intervention. This was further accelerated due to Covid-19, where many employees were confined at home and automated processes were essential to keep businesses active.
In marketing, automation can be used to send targeted messaging that is tailored to customers according to the data that has been retrieved from their transactions and nurturing higher quality leads. Also, by automating repetitive tasks within marketing, automation can free up time and resources to focus on strategy and more complex tasks and follow-up on customers.
10. 5G Technology
Businesses are beginning to see the high data speeds provided by 5G technology as an important component to their business. A study by Capgemini highlighted how 75% of industry executives mentioned 5G technology as an enabler and integra part of their digital transformation over the next five years.
5G is the fifth generation of mobile internet connectivity that provides download speeds up to one hundred times faster than current technology and enables more devices to access the mobile net than ever before.
Numerous industries, particularly telecommunications, will benefit from the versatility, flexibility, and reliability 5G provides.
The rise of digital and automation, in combination with the huge amounts of data businesses use to further engage with their customer base means that 5G is a key technology for marketing leaders.
Marketing teams need access to high-quality data, 5G can deliver high quality, wireless internet at a quicker speed and wider range to even the more remote areas of the country. Apart from being able to deliver high-quality adverts and promotions on more screens, marketers and advertisers can be more daring in their innovation approaches, delving into VR and AR or other technologies and disruptors with the full backing of 5G.
5G will allow businesses and marketing teams to collect data that previously wasn’t possible and deliver better customer experience as a result of this. It is an exciting time for innovation and 5G will open new opportunities for teams to seek novel ways to interact and reach out to customers.
Marketing leaders must not lose sight of these new trends
There are interesting times ahead for marketing teams, as digital transformation opens more doors to reach out to customers and engage with them. Innovation is and will continue to be a major element of marketing campaigns and CMOs must always seek new methods to make their marketing campaigns more targeted and customer focused.
The use of modern disruptors like chatbots, augmented reality, visual search, automation to deliver omnichannel and personalized services to customers determine the success of a brand. Keeping all these functions unified under media planners that fully leverage data and provide insights can facilitate these processes and make it easier for managers to focus on improving their marketing campaigns.
With customer loyalty being a major brand differentiator, the stakes are high, and marketing leaders must not lose sight of the solution that can make or break their business.
Digital Transformation Trends and Statistics
This chapter highlights the key trends shaping digital transformation and the statistics that back the importance of digitalization to drive companies to a successful future.
We have seen the disruptors and emerging technologies that are reshaping businesses and redefining the market, but what are the key trends behind digital transformation and the statistics that back its importance?
Companies are increasingly producing and processing their enterprise-generated data outside traditional data centers or centralized clouds. The main discussion point today is whether to choose private or public clouds. As this paper has revealed, open hybrid clouds are one of the most sought-after strategies for enterprises. In the post-Covid environment, Cloud providers can be important strategic partners that can help reduce costs and deliver better resilience to businesses.
Data is vital
Businesses cannot underestimate the value of data. Unlocking the real potential of data is and will continue to be an essential step in every digital transformation strategy. Data, AI, and Machine learning are critical initiatives that companies are seeking to untap to thrive in the market.
Solutions with Data Analytics capabilities should be a major point of investment for organizations.
Customer habits go hand-in-hand with organizations on the road to digital transformation. Businesses have invested in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, Content Management Systems (CMS) and Media Planners to better manage customer data and deliver better experiences.
A major differentiator between these platforms will be how they manage data. Unified data collection, big data, processing, and reporting will determine the value of future platforms and be a major element in every marketer’s digital transformation toolkit.
Workforces don’t always work in the same location, and this was further accelerated during Covid-19. This can mean investing resources and effort in developing platforms to streamline business processes. Low Code/No Code strategies can make this easy for companies to make these steps, with Gartner predicting that low-code will account for more than 65% of application development activities.
Increased Cybersecurity and Digital Fraud Prevention
Cybersecurity is an imperative for businesses. Enterprises must guarantee privacy, compliance, and AI ethics as part of their shift to digital. With remote work posing more risks of security breaches, there is a growing need to protect data and businesses will be seeking solutions and platforms that guarantee security.
The Statistics that Back Digital Transformation
Deploying digital transformation is a necessity
1. 70% of companies have a digital strategy in place or are in the process of deploying one.
2. 93% of companies agree that innovation technologies are necessary to reach their digital transformation goals.
3. 89% of companies have adopted a digital-first business strategy that can lead to digital transformation.
4. 87% of companies think digital will disrupt their industry, but only 44% are prepared for a potential digital disruption.
5. 55% of companies without a digital transformation believe they have less than a year before they start to lose market share.
6. 96% of leaders report Covid-19 will accelerate their digital transformation by an average of 5.3 years
7. Companies spend over $2 trillion on digital transformation a year
8. 86% of executives say transformation requires a combination of the right culture, revised business processes, and new technology
9. 70% of executives say that over the past two years digital transformation has become significantly more important to business success.
10. 68% of executives believe the future of business will involve people and AI working together.
Digital Transformation delivers benefits to organizations
1. Digital-first companies are 64% more likely to achieve their business goals than their peers.
3. Digital-first companies are three times more likely to exceed top business goals
5. 84% of the executives agree that new business opportunities are emerging as their organization digitally transforms.
6. 81% of digitally mature companies cite innovation as a top organization strength compared to just 10% from early-stage digital adopters
7. Four in five companies who have implemented digital transformation technologies say they can deliver new value for smart, connected products throughout their lifecycle.
8. 56% of CEOs say digital improvements have led to increased revenue.
9. Artificial intelligence can amplify business productivity by 40%. But this is true only when the users can interface with the necessary technology effectively.
10. Implementing digital technologies augments the progress towards company goals by 22%. (Deloitte)
Leadership and team collaboration is essential in Digital Transformation
1. 72% of HR leaders have core HR applications in the cloud or are in the process of moving them there.
2. 37% of CEOs are considered by employees to be holding back digital transformation initiatives.
3. 80% of companies say their digital transformation efforts involve multiple business units or the entire company.
4. 63% rank cultural challenges as the biggest impediments to transformation efforts
5. 71% of enterprises cite the workforce as either very or extremely important in supporting digital transformation strategies.
6. 76% of managers agree that companies need to radically reengineer customer experience, bringing people and technology together in a more human-centric way.
7. 87% of senior executives believe digitalization is an organizational priority.
8. 54% of enterprises worldwide said they would prioritize digital transformation initiatives regarding technology strategies.
9. Businesses move twice as fast on their digital transformation journey once the staff and management collectively understand the importance of their digital path.
10. 20% of CEOs named “digital” their primary concern, compared to 17% in 2020 and 15% in 2019.
New technologies are disrupting the market
1. 95% of digital leaders have implemented cloud capabilities and continue to leave their competitors behind.
2. 76% of companies are investing in emerging technologies
3. 80% of companies have already adopted AI chatbots or plan to do so this year
4. A third of marketing leaders believe AI will lead to the biggest improvement in customer experience
5. Intelligent systems will drive 70% of customer engagements by 2022
6. By 2022, your personal device will know more about your emotional state than your own family.
7. 60% of executives believe connected technology and the Internet of Things will play an important role in their company’s digital strategy.
8. 90% of new enterprise applications will use AI-powered technology in their products and processes by 2025
9. Over two thirds of global business leaders believe the future of business involves humans and AI working together.
10. 92% of customers are satisfied using live chat services, making it the support channel leading to the highest customer satisfaction