Digital technologies — from social media to mobile computing to big data to the Internet of everything — are transforming businesses in every industry.
Do you want to have conversations with your customers in ways that surveys and focus groups never could? Social media can make that happen. Do you want to make your employees more productive anywhere and anytime? Try mobile computing. Do you want to understand what’s really happening in your company so you can make informed decisions rather than just working by instinct? Big data analytics can do that. Do you want to kick the pants off your competitors through digital customer engagement or business model innovations? That can happen, too.
In my research on digital transformation, I’ve been amazed to see how many digital activities companies are undertaking, especially in non-digital industries. But despite all of this activity, relatively few companies were really doing it well. Why are some able to do amazing things with digital technologies, while others just do “more of the same”? What makes some firms “digital masters” while the majority of them lag behind?
You might think it has to do with technology expertise. So many accounts of successful digital businesses focus on Internet startups or companies in the tech industry. You also might think you need to hire a hundred employees from Google or Facebook or Amazon. That thinking is reasonable, but it’s wrong. For digital masters, technology is important, but it’s not the most important thing. The critical factor turns out to be leadership.
In a new book I coauthored with Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAfee, Leading Digital, we looked at how more than 400 large companies in traditional industries like finance, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals are using digital. We identified four key leadership practices for driving digital transformation.
Read the full post at TechCrunch.
George Westerman is a Research Scientist with the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy.