Competing in the digital age is a priority for businesses. There are innumerable opportunities to exploit technology. Each business needs to assess where the biggest return their investment would bring. It needs a digital leader to take charge of this important undertaking. A successful digital leader wears many hats. The following five are the key ones:
- A creative disrupter. The digital leader keeps a pulse on trends that are applicable to the business. He understands the levers the business must acquire in order to compete in the digital age. He leverages his industry expertise to create an innovative model that generates new revenue streams, enters new markets, and elevates the operating model to a high performance engine. His digital vision aligns with the business’ big hairy audacious goal. He is able to communicate that vision in vivid language that everyone understands. He gets buy-in and support.
- A customer champion. The digital leader has deep insight on the customer. As customers demand more and their loyalty becomes more finicky in the digital world, it is crucial to remain customer-centric with the introduction of any change. The digital leader has the customer top-of-mind as he modifies the product design, the digital support channels, even the overhaul to internal business processes. He ensures that changes are cohesive and they align well to deliver exceptional customer experience.
- A risk taker. The digital leader leads initiatives in uncharted waters for the business. He is meticulous in identifying risks and assessing them. He is thorough in determining how to avoid or mitigate them. He consults with others to determine whether the business can accept the remaining risks that can’t be eliminated. The digital leader will opt to use pilots when appropriate to test certain ideas. He is impartial and objective with the assessment before embarking on a full-scale change.
- A change agent. The digital leader introduces changes in multiple facets of the business that have ripple effects throughout the organization. He launches new products and services, implements new standards of service, creates new roles, shuffles responsibilities, eliminates archaic and manual tasks, and busts silos. There will be resistance, which can be distracting to the whole organization. As a change agent, the digital leader inspires everyone to take a leap out of her comfort zone and instills a mindset that change is for the better.
- A determined leader. The digital leader faces many challenges. They include the integration of the new technology with the legacy systems and tools, capital constraints, internal politics and others. The digital leader makes difficult but decisive choices. He perseveres through the transformation journey. He is transparent with the transformation plan, progress and hurdles he encounters. He is not shy in seeking advice to move things in the right direction.
The digital leader has a critical and demanding role. Businesses need to select the right person for the job.