Why the C-suite can’t make digital transformation decisions


Johannesburg, 06 Aug 2019
Read time 3min 30sec

Changing times need changing strategies, says Deshan Govender, Chief Sales Officer at Nexio. Today’s business strategies and processes are very different from the traditional ones, and the ever-increasing pace of change is making it harder than ever for business leaders to stay ahead of market needs.

“Technology, and the disruption technology is leaving in its wake, is bringing unfamiliar opportunities and challenges, along with increased diversity and complexity for executives to contend with. Combined with fast-evolving business models and industry structures, these dynamics are testing the limitations of the typical team of executives,” he says.

“Now, more than ever, the C-suite needs to innovate and revolutionise, but most leaders are more invested in ensuring the core business is running optimally, rather than pursuing something new and untested. However, according to McKinsey, turning your company into a digital player can increase revenue by 3.5% and drive profit up to 15% higher than the competition. So, the difference between an organisation digitally transforming, or failing to do so, is critical in today’s business environment.”

That, says Govender, has resulted in the most common conundrum businesses face today: marrying the need to digitally transform with the necessity to keep the business running smoothly. And too many executives are stuck in the business models of the past to achieve effective digital transformation, he believes.

“When a digital transformation doesn’t deliver the returns it’s supposed to, it’s tempting to question the technology. The truth is that any major programme in a company – including digital transformation – will stand or fall by how involved the C-suite executives are in the process, and how prepared they are to buy into the idea that the digital transformation strategy should be tightly linked to the overall strategy. ”He points out that digital transformation is never just about ticking the box that says the company is modernising, or it has enhanced its IT ecosystem, or has embarked on a data initiative. “It’s about creating a more efficient, consistent way to do business through enabling technologies. This is why it’s different for every organisation, and a fundamental part of a bigger strategic roadmap for the entire business.”

According to an Econsultancy report, only one in five (21%) executives believe their CEO sets a clear digital vision for their business, and one in five senior executives think their organisation’s latest digital transformation project is a waste of time. Govender says most business leaders think they are investing heavily in digital transformation, but the technology is only one element of a complex process.

“The idea that you can’t separate technology and your use of it from how your business lives and breathes is something executives sometimes shy away from. But it’s today’s reality. That’s why focusing only on technology is leading to so much disillusionment with digital transformation initiatives. To harness digital in a way that advances the brand, the company’s competitive edge, and its bottom line, you need to truly involve all aspects of the organisation. The only way that’s going to happen is when you enlist the active support of the people in the business, which makes a culture change just as important to transformation as technology,” he adds.

“Leading drastic organisational shifts with clear leadership makes all the difference. The first thing leaders need to do is communicate the vision clearly and consistently, based on reasons employees can get behind. The next step is to create the right teams and match them to the right technologies. Yet only 35% of businesses going through digital transformation do this, which proves that C-Suite engagement is often the missing piece of the puzzle for companies struggling with digital transformation.”

Editorial contacts
Exposure Mia Andric (+27) 82 564 0087 mia@exposureunlimited.net
Chief Sales Officer Deshan Govender (011) 808 6195