5 Rules for Developing a Digital Mindset
Going full-throttle digital is a great aspiration in today’s day and age, but nine in ten business leaders are either puzzled, hesitant, or investing too much on a piecemeal basis to realize success in the digital realm.
That’s the word from a survey of 8,300 top business and IT executives, conducted by Accenture, which identified the best habits of enterprises that are achieving results from their digital transformation efforts. Only 10% of executives could say their companies are delivering on their digital efforts and seeing tangible results. The common denominators among these leaders include the following mindsets, the survey’s authors — Paul Daugherty, Bhaskar Ghosh and James Wilson, all with Accenture — draw the following conclusions:
Bear in mind that these are the top executives — including a substantial number of CEOs — who are voicing these modes of thinking, so it stands to reason that successful digital enterprises are led by individuals who have a strong belief and understanding of the power of technology to deliver growth and opportunity. (And no doubt well-balanced with a belief in supporting the people who will help make this happen, as I explored in this previous post.)
These beliefs are delivering results. The Accenture survey indicates that this enlightened 10% of leaders grow revenues (nine percent annually) at more than twice the rate of the “laggards” (four percent annually). That lack of growth — which Daugherty and his co-authors attribute to lack of cohesive digital strategy — will mean laggards will leave 46% of their potential annual revenue on the table by 2023.
What traits do digital leaders have in common that is helping them achieve greater growth? The Accenture team highlights a number of factors — from hard-core management practices to more forward-looking mindsets:
Leaders find what works, and replicate it.Digital leaders transform three times as many processes as laggards. They are always seeking out ways to reuse technology across their organizations. “And when considering each process, leaders also ask what other processes might leverage the same technologies,” Daugherty and his co-authors observe.
Leaders see new adopting new technology as a strategic, not just operational move. Eighty-three percent of leaders in the Accenture study agree that it is important to decouple data from legacy infrastructure, compared with 37% of laggards. Laggards tend to patch and maintain, while companies in the middle may see moving from an-premises data center to cloud as a “lift-and-shift” move to cut costs. Leaders, on the other hand, “see the cloud not simply as a data center. They see it as a catalyst for innovation across silos and businesses.”
Leaders don’t take a wait-and-see attitude. “Investing in the right tech at the right time brings big rewards,” Daugherty and his team relate. When asking companies about their adoption of 28 different technologies, they find that “while most companies hold back, leaders leap.” Most laggards, they find, “experiment with new tech on the leading edge, but do not plan or follow through with the innovations of new technologies into their core processes. Consider Software as a Service through the cloud. About 20% of leaders adopted SaaS five years ago, compared to eight percent of laggards. Today, 90% of leaders are confident of their SaaS expertise, compared to 29% of laggards.
Leaders are firm believers in upskilling employees — on a continuous basis. The goal is to create and enable a workforce augmented by technology. “Leaders use technologies to make work more engaging while simultaneously realizing efficiency gains,” Daugherty and his co-authors state. “These activities strengthen their relationships with employees.” Eighty-six percent of leaders use experiential learning in combination with intelligent technologies such as AI, analytics and machine learning to predict and match worker training with required job skills and even rewrite job descriptions, compared to 35 percent of laggards.
Leaders don’t believe in boundaries when it comes to both technology and human potential. “Leaders, by embracing a tech strategy built on systems that are boundaryless, adaptable and radically human, position their organizations to become increasingly agile and able to innovate at scale within the enterprise.” says the Accenture team. “By taking this approach, they can manage technology investments and track their value, even for areas that are relatively new. Ninety-four percent of leaders track the value of AI-based automation, versus 47% of laggards.”
The bottom line here, as we see time and time again in industry surveys and research reports, is that technology can do wondrous things for enterprises, but by itself, it’s just a bunch of machines and code. What is required is human ingenuity to create and act on new ideas, enabled by a corporate culture that encourages open-minded thinking. A successful digital enterprise isn’t a technological enterprise, it’s a confederation of inspired people empowered by technology.
Author: Joe McKendrick