How to prepare your business for a digital future

You know the ins and outs of cloud migration, the benefits of a software-defined network and the argument for modern platform design. You’re investing in big data analytics, defining mobile-first initiatives and reckoning with the ever-growing and changing demands of your clients in this ever-connecting world.

In short, you’re mapping the way to your business’ digital future – or, even better, taking steps down that path already. Congratulations!

But before you get too far down the road – we’ve got to have a talk, a pretty serious one about a blind-spot that most progressive leaders share.

While it sounds like you’re prepared (or at least preparing) for the massive changes barreling your way, I wonder – how does the rest of your organization feel about it? Are they ready for the digital future too?

It might seem silly to ask this question – after all, digital is practically an inevitable state for business today. But the people behind your company – your employees, partners, even clients – they really do matter to the success of this transformation.

Digital, after all, is not just about the technology in play. It’s about a whole new approach to the way you do things.

The good news is, strong digital leadership has been shown to be a key driver in transformation success. And since you have already embraced the digital future, your business is halfway there. The next step, as a leader in your enterprise, is to guide others down this path.

In my view, an organization ready to walk the digital walk needs to have these characteristics:

First, they need a clearly defined digital strategy that’s fully integrated into the business. I like the image of weaving digital – both the technology and the culture – into the very DNA of an organization. And employees are an essential part of that fabric.

They’re also putting boots on the ground and developing internal digital leaders at all levels of the organization. I’ve talked about building this talent in the enterprise, and our Leading Edge Forum has great tips for growing digital leaders from the inside-out.

We know digital companies embrace data to make decisions and use IT to further collaboration and connectivity. They also seize opportunities to automate in order to improve processes and free up resources. While these factors relate to technology, they also depend on your people being willing to change their approach to work – and, as a leader, you may need to guide them in this process.

Finally, digital companies foster innovation in the workplace (something I’ve also written about here). This includes granting employees a safe place to fail.

A workplace culture that can allow for failures will ultimately inspire some big wins and big successes, too. Your people need to know that business as usual is not good business in the digital age. They need to be ready and willing to take risks, try new things and reap the rewards of an innovative approach – and as a leader, you need to let them know that it’s OK.

I’d recommend you take some time to consider how your current workplace matches up to these goals. And now that I’ve got you thinking about the people part of the equation – onward and upward in your journey to digital!

In true digital spirit, I encourage you to engage and collaborate with me in this space. Leave a comment about a new way to think about a topic I’ve addressed. Share my post via social media and interact with me on Twitter. I look forward to getting your feedback and using it to guide my blogging.

RELATED LINKS

Leading the digital business, beyond the technology

Growing your skills in the digital age

Journey to the Digital Enterprise

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