Business and Network Leadership in the Digital Transformation

As a disruptive process, digitalization is an inherently risky undertaking that could threaten a business’ existence if executed poorly. The most significant issue to address for a business taking on the digital transformation concerns the application of management, resources and skillsets. At the most basic level, a digitalization strategy will not succeed without the active alignment and participation of the entire workforce. Horizontal and vertical silos must be removed to ensure collaboration across the multiple teams and departments involved.

Because digitalization is globally pervasive and therefore compulsory, all teams and departments must contribute or risk becoming irrelevant to and a financial burden upon the business.

Above all, the digital transformation requires that businesses harness talents across the entire organization, an achievement only possible with a unified approach to digitalization. This requirement makes specific demands of corporate leadership for collaboration and business emphasis. However, nearly two-thirds of staff feel a lack of leadership is stalling the digital transformation of their company,[1] and 77% of digital stakeholders feel their organization’s approach to digital strategy is either lagging or only partially aligned with broader enterprise strategy.[2] How can this be addressed by business and network management leaders?

C-suite collaboration

The digital transformation process is deemed so critical that 60% of enterprises are creating an independent corporate executive to oversee the implementation,[3] yet it should not just be the job of any one corporate executive. Collaboration at the corporate level will ensure that all leaders and departments pull in the same direction and do not lose sight of the ultimate goal – business agility for the creation of greater customer value.

By 2018, two-thirds of Global 2000 enterprises will have digital transformation at the centre of their corporate strategy.

Forbes, ‘6 Predictions About The Future Of Digital Transformation’ (2015)

Regardless of whether the digitalization of the company’s network strategy is headed by the chief information officer or an overall chief digital officer, all technology and network leaders must move above the nuts and bolts level of operations and become business leaders. Support must be provided to CIOs who are struggling to move beyond a solely operational role. In this way, IT operations can align with the wider business’ agile development.

Businesses must therefore determine if current leaders have required capacity, capabilities and experience to drive digital transformation in their departments, alongside assessing potential blockers such as systemic barriers between departments and disparate data sources. Enabling and encouraging leaders to jointly hold both operational and technological responsibilities can mitigate existing silo limitations, and accelerate changes in the network and network management. Presently, businesses take an average of four months to implement network changes,[4] a timeframe that does not meet the need for business agility.

Agility is key

Leaders in the digital transformation require the strategic vision, digital experience, managerial ability and collaborative emphasis to bring about this agility. These conditions are necessary for the innovation and automation that enable rapid service creation and provisioning to meet dynamic customer needs and market requirements.

With this dynamism being the constant quality of the digital transformation, businesses are becoming ever more reliant on DevOps processes to control essential innovation and automation.  DevOps merges development and operations for greater speed and responsiveness in deploying software and infrastructure, as well as introducing safe-to-fail environments that encourage faster learning opportunities. DevOps engineers must necessarily bridge the gap between software engineering and infrastructure operations, giving technology and network leaders opportunity to approach issues around integrating and scaling projects from a macro perspective.

Digital business transformation is expected to replace cost reduction as the top driver for new business process management initiatives.

Forrester, ‘Business Process Management Playbook for 2017’ (2016)

CIOs and CDOs need to find staff who can automate the IT environments for improved efficiency and security in application and software deployment. DevOps can then represent the actualization of the C-suite’s vision for a business’ digitalization, preventing the corporate executives from becoming lost in the operations environment that would have required their full attention in the pre-digitalization era.

Skills before technology

Investment in network technology can only come after the conditions for a unified approach to digitalization have been implemented – there is little use in the latest technologies if the culture and processes are not appropriate for their use. However, research suggests that businesses are continuing to prioritize technical investment. Three-quarters of companies recognize the importance of extensive data analytics skills, but less than two-fifths claim to possess the necessary skills in this domain. Further, just 10% have implemented a recruitment or training program to close this skills gap.[5]

Just 15% of leaders believe their organization has enough personnel with the skills needed for the digital transformation.

IDT-Survey, ‘Skills For Digital Transformation’ (2017)

It is critical to support the long-term vision for transformation with adequate deployment of skills, otherwise network administrators will be unable to meet the demands of the overall business. Training on the job is the other side of the coin to the ‘fail-fast’ culture of learning and experimentation necessitated by digitalization, and is especially important given the accelerating rate of change not just in network processes but technologies in general.

Improved skillsets enable network administrators to get more out of the legacy setup, increase their agility for improved collaborative efforts and removal of silos, and orient the organization’s culture towards one of continuous learning. Enhancing the capabilities of the existing workforce also means businesses have less need for the expenditure of new hires to better bring about and work under the conditions required for digital transformation.

[1] Marketing Week, ‘What does ‘digital transformation’ really mean?’ (2016)

[2] IDC, ‘Digital Transformation Obstacles and How to Overcome Them’ (2016)

[3] IDC, ‘Worldwide Digital Transformation 2016 Predictions’ (2015)

[4] Forbes, ‘Predictions About The Future Of Digital Transformation’ (2015)

[5] IDT-Survey, ‘Skills for Digital Transformation’ (2015)

Share This