Digital Transformation and Corporate Boards: Embracing Technological Change

Leading your organization’s digital transformation involves constantly monitoring what technology is available and how it can help you. Whether you’re a CEO or a board member, it’s your responsibility to seek out new ways to use technology to improve efficiencies, profits, and productivity at your company.

What Is Digital Transformation?

If you’re reading about digital transportation for the first time, welcome to the twenty-first century. Everybody’s familiar with the term, but despite all the chatter, people seem to have vastly different interpretations of what it really means. Is digital transformation the process of switching from PCs to Macs? Is it an overhaul of your brand’s mobile app? Is it a new CRM platform? Well, the answer is, “Yes, and…”

The truth is that digital transformation is more than just tactics; it’s a strategy. You can’t have transformation without a long-term strategy. It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s continuous, long-term, and endless—because technology is constantly evolving.

I like the definition from McKinsey: “Digital transformation is the fundamental rewiring of how an organization operates…to build a competitive advantage by continuously deploying tech at scale to improve customer experience and lower costs.” Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services defines digital transformation as “the process that an organization applies to integrate digital technology in all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how it delivers value to customers.”

Digital transformation demands time, focus, and resources. You may think you’re dedicated to keeping your organization digitally relevant, but are you actually setting aside time to work on your organization’s digital transformation strategy in the short- and long-term? When it comes to crafting your strategy, my best advice is to start at the end. Think about where you want to end up and then work backwards. What technology can help you achieve what you’re looking for? Whether you’re thinking ten days, ten weeks, or ten years out, you have to plan with your destination in mind.

Who’s Responsible for Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is everyone’s responsibility, but as a business leader or a board member, the weight falls on your shoulders to hold everyone accountable and make sure you’re advancing the organization’s digital strategy. Corporate boards themselves should examine how they can incorporate technology in how they operate, how they interact, and how they communicate. In the bigger picture, boards have to continually monitor and improve what the company is doing with technology.

Within your organization’s digital strategy, one pivotal decision is to allocate ownership of your AI strategy. Corporate boards can provide valuable input, but it’s imperative that the CEO designate someone as the owner if anything is actually going to get done. Is it your chief technology officer or your chief marketing officer? Maybe it’s you as CEO. My advice is to assemble a team that’s constantly looking at how your organization can evolve and implement new technology. Make it a priority for every business area to come up with their own opportunities to use technology. It’s your responsibility as a leader, however, to align all the efforts under your organization’s greater digital transformation strategy.

What’s at Stake?

To say it’s important to embrace opportunities for technological change is an understatement. It may be easy to turn a blind eye to innovative technology—especially if it seems overly complex, disruptive, or frivolous—and instead stick with your tried-and-true methods, but doing so means putting your competitive advantage at risk. Staying on top of the latest technology is exponentially easier than falling behind and trying to catch up. Don’t believe me? Everywhere you look, you can find examples of successful and failed digital transformation. Blockbuster, meet Netflix. Netscape, meet Microsoft. USPS, meet FedEx. See what I mean?

Creating and implementing your digital strategy is an urgent issue for businesses spanning all industries. Opportunities are constantly coming and going. You have to be thinking about digital transformation right now, and you’re already falling behind if you’re not.

Digital Transformation and Your Business

I have no doubt that AI will be the greatest productivity enhancer we’ve experienced since the industrial revolution. It’s essential to identify ways to bring in the latest technology and evolve your business along with it. Digital transformation, and the ability to embrace technology, is the cornerstone of keeping your business competitive thirty years from now.

Questions to Consider

  1. Are you actively participating in digital transformation? How is your organization using AI?
  2. Do you have a defined plan to evolve and transform your business for the next twenty years?
  3. Is your corporate board of directors equipped to help your business stay technologically relevant?

If you’d like to discuss how to lead your organization’s approach to digital transformation, contact me. I’d love to help you learn more about leadership strategy and high-performing teams.