Why digital maturity must be on the boardroom agenda

Why digital maturity must be on the boardroom agenda

Digital Transformation is not merely about technology. Once businesses understand why, what, how and when to digitally transform, they will see that the technology agenda is typically the easiest part. Halil Aksu, Co-Founder and CEO, Digitopia, explains how the C-suite needs to look at its Digital Transformation strategy and which areas companies need to focus on.

The world around us is changing. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of investing in Digital Transformation. This is not only in order to survive, but to use it as a catalyst for future sustainability and long-term success. Businesses are smarter, more intelligent and more digitally connected than ever before, which means Digital Transformation remains a high priority for many organisations.

Of course, this only increases the competitive nature of business. Before, Digital Transformation offered enterprises a competitive edge. However, as the world becomes increasingly digital, they now find themselves needing to invest in Digital Transformation to avoid being left behind.

Understandably, this has left many boardrooms confused. Seemingly out of nowhere, decades of hard work have been rendered obsolete. Wealth is changing hands without warning and tangible assets are being replaced with intangible benefits, but much of this can be explained with Digital Transformation.

Fuelled by data, driven by computing power and directed by consumer behaviour – the digital world is creating value from intangible assets as we have never seen before. The most valuable organisations on the planet are those with the most data, computing power and users. There is no way to compete with them. The only way to keep up for legacy businesses is by partnering with those at the forefront of digital progression, so long as these innovative companies see any value in what laggard organisations are doing.

A holistic approach to transformation

Digital is far too important to leave it to IT teams only. Digital Transformation is not merely about technology. Once businesses understand why, what, how and when to digitally transform, they will see that the technology agenda is typically the easiest part. Making decisions, setting priorities, changing the culture and overcoming mental barriers are much more difficult. This all begins in the boardroom. Strong executive leadership will navigate the organisation towards long-term business success and sustainability.

Decisions are made in the boardroom based on analysis, numbers, options or feasibility studies. However, when it comes to Digital Transformation, that analytical and quantitative approach seems to disappear. Usually, it’s a basket of conflicting priorities – projects generated by hype or tech vendors dominating the agenda. Businesses should not leave the steering wheel to third parties. The most effective way to get things done is to make it someone’s responsibility and measure the progress. Digital maturity quantifies Digital Transformation and makes progress measurable.

Becoming a boardroom priority

The boardroom does not need to engage on a technology level, nor does it need to understand consumer behaviour in detail. However, Digital Transformation must become a top priority for those in the C-suite. Executives must understand that we are moving away from the classic business model and financial approach. Instead, we are heading towards an information age and knowledge society. The charts of accounts, asset classes and business priorities are all changing.

It can be expected for the C-suite to be confused about digital. For many, it is an unknown and seemingly complicated path. The most common questions that executives have been asking over the last few years are focused on understanding their journey. The beginning is not clear, because it’s difficult to clearly distinguish where technology ends and where digital starts. It can also be unclear where this journey will lead businesses and how long it can take. There is much uncertainty around Digital Transformation but understanding digital maturity can help businesses quantify their road to the future.

Evaluating Digital Transformation

Over the past year, the world has come to realise how important the digital revolution is. This has been exemplified in a number of ways. From a business perspective, staff have been able to work from home during lockdown, enabling continued operations during a challenging time for many industries. However, it doesn’t stop there. Multiple industries have utilised digital to remain operational: online shopping and last-mile-delivery, online education, digital citizen services and even augmented fitness at home.

Becoming more digitally mature allows organisations to future-proof their business. Something that became clear during the pandemic was that the ability to remain agile is paramount. Digital Transformation enables this. Utilising cloud technologies gives enterprises the freedom and flexibility to work wherever and however it is necessary. From here, businesses can further foster a flexible culture, promoting a better work-life balance for employees.

However, as society climbs back to normal, many within the boardroom will understand that there are more benefits to Digital Transformation than remote working. Scalability is an essential factor. Technology is not bound to physical restrictions, digital services and solutions can be increased, enhanced and altered at a moment’s notice. This not only helps to keep organisations agile, but also provides the foundations of future growth.

These increased levels of scalability and agility combine to enable greater growth and profitability for businesses. Efficient and cost-effective processes allow leaders to focus on wider business opportunities, and greater access to data produces better decision making, faster. Increased profit margins also give organisations increased resources available to implement changes that can further benefit the business, and a stable Digital Transformation strategy also keeps companies connected. Strong partnerships with other digital focused organisations complement all parties involved. Better opportunities present themselves and everyone continues to grow while keeping ahead of the competition.

Of course, when new customers, clients and partners are onboarded, digital services and solutions can then be scaled with ease. Digital maturity encourages steady, sustainable growth that delivers true business value.

A sustainable approach to business

Being committed to a digital journey and investing in the right approach will be the gateway to growth. It will help businesses to compete in the ‘better normal’.

By regularly measuring progress, organisations can see the bigger picture. They will then understand where they are excelling, as well as which areas need more focus. The entire business can continue to head in the right direction, getting closer to digital maturity by the day.

If organisations invest in measuring and benchmarking their digital maturity, they will be more connected, more efficient, more flexible and more optimised. Businesses will be able to fulfil their long-term vision. Digital Transformation will result in fundamental changes to how organisations operate, achieve success and drive genuine business value.

Competing with the best

When it comes to business performance, every board member and every senior executive would like to become like an ironman or an ironwoman. Business is similar to long distance sports – one needs endurance for the long-term, but flexibility and speed for the short-term. They are multi-disciplinary and compete on various fronts, but importantly, they keep a fresh mind under the most difficult conditions.

Digital capabilities offer the boardroom these superpowers. Digital is light speed for the short-term, the real-time transaction, yet it remembers everything in the long-term: perfect memory, perfect analysis, perfect predictions.

Digital maturity shows a business where it is, what traits they have, as well as their digital strengths and opportunities. It also shows they can thrive under these newfound competitive circumstances in a post-COVID environment.

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