Successful leader

Seven steps to becoming a digital business leader

For more than a decade, business and IT have become increasingly inseparable and started co-evolving, and this unstoppable integration is altering the very nature of companies, competition and work. Along with globalisation, it is the defining economic transition of our time.

To succeed in this world, senior executives must increasingly think digital first, while professionals and employees at every level must learn new skills and adopt new ways of working. Those who embrace this future will enjoy exciting career opportunities, but those who resist it will be increasingly marginalised. We see both patterns in many large organisations today.

Nowhere is the impact of these forces greater than in the enterprise IT function. IT has always been among the most “inside-out” parts of the firm because developing and managing internal information systems has required – and still requires – a deep and sustained focus on the detailed nature of individual company operations and processes. 

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This heads-down culture is so strong that companies often appoint dedicated business relationship managers (BRMs) who have the communications and consulting skills needed to keep IT’s efforts aligned with the overall goals of their firm.

Although the need for traditional BRMs remains, to ensure their future relevance, they must become more than just effective internal business partners; they must also emerge as externally engaged digital business leaders (DBLs).

The difference is one of orientation – while BRMs focus mostly on internal systems, processes and applications, DBLs primarily engage with the wider digital ecosystem: the startups, technologies, platforms and disruptive business models coming out of Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

Finding the time, budgets, skills and bandwidth to make this inside-out to outside-in transition while still taking care of demanding internal work is the biggest and most difficult strategic challenge facing enterprise IT today. The following seven recommendations can help.

Many consumer and internet of things technologies need to be experienced to be fully appreciated.;

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