Top 3 Examples of Smart Digital Leadership
By Arijit Banerjee
It’s clear that the wave of digital disruption sweeping across industries is creating significant value. According to the World Economic Forum, the digital transformation of industries is expected to bring about a combined value (for both industry and society) to the tune of $100 trillion by 2025. What is not so clear is what it takes to be a digital leader in this rapidly evolving environment. Only 35% say they have the leadership capabilities required to succeed at digital transformation — a decrease from 45% in 2012.
What are successful digital-first organizations doing to drive their transformation agendas? They are focusing on three major aspects: reworking their strategies, rethinking talent development and transforming their culture. Take inspiration from these real world examples to design your own path to digital leadership.
Digital leaders understand that digital transformation starts with their customers.
Sephora, the leading beauty retailer, was confronted with a conundrum. Consumers typically like to try out beauty products before buying them but replicating this hands-on approach on a digital platform presented several challenges. The retailer set up an innovation lab in 2015 to brainstorm, develop and test a wide range of digital experiences. Based on the ideas from the innovation lab, it launched a mobile app ‘Sephora to Go’ that integrates Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) tools. The AI component scans the customer’s skin to match shades and recommend products, while the AR component allows customers to virtually try makeup on. The app is also useful to in-store customers. It allows them to scan products to access online reviews and ratings. The result: Sephora’s digital experiences, designed around its consumers’ needs, drive customer delight.
Digital leaders focus on reskilling and upskilling in-house talent to beat skill shortage
British Airways employs over 40,000 people. Yet, the airline finds it hard to attract the digital talent it needs. Instead of waiting for the right talent to find them, the airline identifies home grown talent through its ‘talent scout’ employee recommendation program. For hard to find skills like data science and analytics, British Airways has established an innovation lab – UnGrounded – to give its employees the opportunity to grow their skills and discover new ideas. In addition, the airline hires external specialists with digital expertise to work on certain projects. More importantly, the airline makes sure that these specialists transfer their knowledge to one of their own employees in order to grow the internal talent pool. The result: a steady supply of internal talent skilled in digital capabilities.
Digital leaders have a higher Digital Quotient (DQ) i.e. a higher digital maturity- McKinsey experts
Digital natives value work-life balance. To attract them, Deloitte Digital created a modern workplace that is flexible – one that provides not only the space but also the opportunity for collaboration. Instead of giving its employees individual offices and permanent desks, the company created an array of different working areas and collaboration technologies. The result: Deloitte was successful in building a culture of collaboration that gives employees choice in terms of how they want to work, driving agility and speed – the hallmark of digital maturity.
Given that disruption is the new norm and organizations are committing to it one way or another, it’s important to understand that digital leadership is not tied to the scale of the project. Rather it’s related to transforming the processes and employee’s mindsets to achieve successful customer and business outcomes.