digital transformation

By Dmitri Shiry, Managing Partner, Deloitte

In January, thousands of companies and consumers flocked to Las Vegas to explore the latest technologies at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). And while most companies were there to promote their own products on the market, Deloitte was also on the showroom floor to offer a different perspective on what these technologies could mean for organizations—and how they can respond to ongoing digital disruption.

Most enterprises seem to be experiencing unprecedented change due to digital and exponential technologies. These capabilities can help organizations improve efficiency, power new products and services, and enable new business models. And adapting to this change and taking advantage of digital technologies could be critical for nearly every contemporary business.

Many companies may not have responded to digital disruption sooner because their competitors weren’t responding either. But they should act soon if they don’t want to get left behind.

When beginning—or continuing—their digital transformation efforts, companies need to remember that technology itself isn’t the key to success. The “transformation” also can play a critical role. And a lot of that often hinges on who organizations select to lead the charge.

Developing digital leaders

In a recent Deloitte study on digital leaders, we found that most organizations acknowledge the need for new leaders to head digital transformation efforts. Yet it’s generally only digitally mature organizations—those who’ve already adapted to a digital business environment—who are developing the types of leaders they expect to need for the future themselves.

Regardless of whether your organization is developing digital leaders internally or hiring from outside, you should look for individuals who can effectively:

  • Provide vision and purpose
  • Create conditions to experiment
  • Empower people to think differently
  • Get people to collaborate across boundaries

During digital transformations, organizations may also need to rethink who should lead—not just the traits of a good leader. Many companies are starting to push down decision-making authority to lower levels, empowering individual employees to make decisions and effectively lead. This would require those at the top of the hierarchy to shift their leadership style from directing orders to offering guidance and influence.

Preparing employees for the digital workplace

While digital skills are expected to be a key part of success in the future of work, more and more organizations are looking for employees with strong social, cognitive, and problem-solving skills—the “human” skills that organizations won’t get from technologies like artificial intelligence.

New technologies and machine learning capabilities are expected to create the need for more jobs that are service-oriented and social. For example, sales professionals can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) so they can focus more on human interactions. AI isn’t replacing these workers, it’s complementing existing roles.

So while many have feared the impact that technology could have on the workforce, we’re actually seeing that occupations with greater levels of automation are experiencing higher employment growth rates—not lower.

Regardless of the specific skills—either technical or interpersonal—employees should develop to succeed in the future of work, training will likely play an increasingly important role as companies continue on their digital journey.

Becoming more digital

Learning is something that should be practiced and cultivated for it to be effective. In the same way, organizations can—and need to—learn to become more digital.

Digital business moves more quickly, requires new levels of collaboration, and involves constant change. The biggest change organizations might need to make is thinking differently about business altogether—and the impact of digitally-enabled capabilities.

How can you get started on your digital journey?

  • Assess your existing digital maturity
  • Create pockets of fresh thinking and innovation
  • Experiment and learn
  • Use successes to drive change across the organization

To learn more about what it takes to thrive in the digital era, read Deloitte’s full report.