Digital Technology and the Executive’s Brand

Digital Technology and the Executive’s Brand

Category : 2018

From big data to analytics to artificial intelligence, digital transformation is driving a seismic shift in the corporate landscape. Executives who leverage the potential of cyber technologies will accelerate rapid growth in their companies while creating dynamic career opportunities for themselves. Leaders adopting a “give it time” mentality will see their professional lives take a trajectory similar to that of companies ignoring this new reality.

The majority of digital transformations fail. A poll last year by technology giant Wipro found that one in five executives say digital transformation is a waste of time. An August 2018 issue of CIO magazine cited the lack of CEO sponsorship, resistance to change, and lack of pace as “specific impediments” to an enterprise becoming a digital leader.

Enterprises are not designed for rapid and adaptive change. As companies grow, they must develop systems and processes that ensure consistent delivery of quality goods and services. The need for systematizing business as it is, fuels a tendency for an executive to embrace change to the degree it doesn’t upset his or her current world.

It’s difficult if not impossible to sponsor a dynamic you don’t understand. Korn Ferry reports that across industries, the average age of a C-suite executive is 58 years old. It is safe to assume the average age of board members is higher. While remembering the day their first personal computer appeared on their desks, these leaders now carry in their pockets more computing power than found in their first PCs. Technology is an addition to their lives, not an ever-present conduit for personal agility.

PayPal CEO Dan Schulman says, “The biggest impediment to a company’s future success is its past success. The same could be said of C-suite executives. This group needs to embrace Marshall Goldsmith’s axiom, “What got you here, won’t get you there.” Senior executives cannot settle with trying to incorporate digital transformation “where it fits” in a current skill set or career strategy any more than they can cautiously engage with the digitization of their businesses. C-suite leaders who want a meaningful role and a credible voice five years from now, will find and use the coordinates for digital transformation to plot a path for lasting relevance.

In a recent report, consulting giant KPMG noted, “True digital transformation starts with the customer and works inwards, connecting capabilities to ensure that every part of the organization is built around delivering great customer experiences.” An executive wanting to build a strong personal brand around digital transformation will look at customers both outside and inside the enterprise. He or she will move beyond accommodating digital transformation to leveraging it to improve communication, create greater transparency, and accelerate responsiveness in every direction.

While speaking of businesses, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also speaks to leaders when he says, “In today’s era of volatility, there is no other way but to re-invent. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility . . . nothing else is sustainable, everything else you create, someone else will replicate.”

Branding is about differentiation. Digital transformation across the globe creates an unmatched opportunity for leaders who are willing to create a unique and highly-valued brand for themselves.