Get digital into your DNA

Whatever the industry, aim or strategy organisations need to make digital part of their DNA

Digital transformation has happened. The change that’s occurred is so big that it’s been compared to the industrial revolution. It sounds strange placing ourselves in a historical moment, because in everyday life it’s easy to just carry on, accept the reality you’re in without thinking too much about it. But digital has made its way into so many aspects of our lives that there's no ignoring it.

This is particularly true for many businesses, who know they must adapt but have struggled to keep up. A recent study, The New Reality, found that lack of... “engagement and buy-in from senior leadership was by far the most frequently cited barrier to digital transformation across the study’s interviews”.

Understandably, for many below boardroom level, this situation is very frustrating to deal with. If you’ve got great ideas and a vision of how to implement them, you need key decision makers to be closely involved with the inevitable changes, risks and work that will follow.

While the study focuses on non-profit organisations, the findings have much broader reach. It was found that a “third of study contributors felt strongly that existing digital leaders were not able to achieve their ambitions without further support or intervention from higher up.”

This confirms that buy-in from senior leadership is essential for reacting quickly and pushing forward much needed change. Many organisations are finding that the digital revolution has shaken things up more than they had anticipated. Change is scary, especially when it shifts the foundations upon which your business is based and calls for a radical overhaul of strategy and purpose.

So if digital is not top of your organisation's priority list, how can you nudge it up there?

Find or become a champion of digital

Someone needs to be responsible for pushing the boundaries and constantly putting digital at the top of the agenda. Whether this be with innovative ideas or small changes that will make a big difference.

As always, listening is key

Involve senior leaders in the conversations that are happening around digital communication – the sooner they realise that it’s got to be an integral part of their approach the better. Utilise the knowledge of the digital and tech agencies that you work with and be open to meeting with them for advice.

Get some goals

Everyone likes ticking something off their to do list. Like anything else, setting clear targets will always pay off. They don’t have to be big things – start with small steps and embrace an iterative approach to make sure you’re going in the right direction.

Allow for experimentation

Making time for research and development really does pay off. If you’re having trouble getting this across bring it back to a point of reference – present an example of something comparable that would never be done without R&D and ask why digital should be any different.

Break down barriers

Identify the obstacles that prevent senior leaders from engaging and investing in digital. Then set out to tackle these – again, small steps before a leap forward.

Having a digital strategy governed by a certain team within an organisation is no longer enough, digital needs to be in every fibre of an organisation, at the heart of decisions and ideas for the future. Senior leaders that treat digital in isolation put their organisation at risk of being left behind.

Recognising the potential of digital is key to staying ahead in a competitive marketplace. Champions within organisations must push for change and innovation and there needs to be a drive to realign strategies with the digital environment evolving around us. Leaders don’t need to understand the technology itself, but they need to realise the necessity to embrace it.

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