Changing with the times cannot be seen as the sole responsibility of the digital and IT experts within businesses. Digital transformation must be at the very heart of business structure and culture, driven from the boardroom and down through the company.
We are living in an increasingly digital world that has implications for individuals, organisations and society. In an age where data driven technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), are underpinning more and more of how we live and work, there are profound questions around skills, ethics and culture change that must be answered by senior leadership across all organisations and sectors.
So, when it comes to transforming businesses to compete in this changing world, it must be those at the board level that take the responsibility to support and guide employees through this change, as well as champion those technologies and people that are pressing forward.
Board-level leaders must drive tech innovations
In order to support a smooth, successful and continuous culture of digital transformation, boards must begin with the basics. They must ask themselves what the business or organisation’s core values are and how these translate into decisions that are being made about the adoption and deployment of advanced technologies.
This must be a board-led process but must have considerable input from all levels of the organisation. It is crucial that boards instigate a culture shift that is inclusive and promotes a positive move towards a more digitally attuned culture.
Involve colleagues across the business
A recent Doteveryone report found that where companies have processes to enable ethical questions to be flagged and addressed these are often very effective, with 79% of employees saying that their concerns were addressed.
Keeping employees involved across the digital transformation process is a board-level responsibility that techUK recently put forward in its Digital Ethics Paper1 earlier this year. Boards must then look to see how values align with changes to business goals and key performance indicators. This will ultimately inform the business of which technologies need to be championed.
Boards must also be able to answer some key questions. In particular, they must question who ‘digital’ reports to, and how high up digital transformation is on the board agenda. They must understand what skills they currently have, what types of skills are needed and what needs to be done to support staff in their digital skills development. This will not only ensure that the business can cope with immediate requirements but will also lead to staff finding new opportunities using the technology, as they better understand and use tools.
Boards must also be able to answer some key questions. In particular around where ‘digital’ reports to and how high up it is on the board agenda. They must understand what skills they currently have, what types of skills are needed and what needs to be done to support staff in their digital skills development. This will not only ensure that the business can cope with immediate requirements but will also lead to staff finding new opportunities using the technology, as they better understand and use tools.
Find what data is crucial for organisational success
Other things that I regularly ask of boards are: ‘What data does the organisation gather and use?’ And, ‘What are board’s responsibilities when it comes to that data and their customers, employees and stakeholders?’ Boards need to also know how aware they are of the digital disruption currently taking place in the business.
Does the board know where innovation is taking place in the business? And: what is it doing to encourage it? Will there be greater investment in the future, and might it be able to support tools, such as sandboxes, to foster and grow an innovation culture? Finally, what will it do to manage disruption within the company and ensure that the needs of all are addressed?
These questions must be answered before organisations take the deep dive into transformative technologies, such as cloud, AI and IoT, which can be exploited to supercharge, not only our businesses, but the wider UK economy.
Within this report, there are some excellent ideas from senior leaders that can help organisations to realise the full potential of digital and ensure transformation is led from the top.