Digital Mastery in the C-Suite

Digital is not a new buzzword in the C-suite, yet it is one of the hardest terms to quantify from a capabilities standpoint. Whether your company is just getting started with digital adoption, or you’re a leader in your industry, you’d like to be able to say that you’ve achieved digital mastery in the C-suite.

Building digital acumen within your organization is difficult, especially at the C-level. According to a recent Heidrick & Struggles ebook, it not as easy as, ”expanding the remit of an existing chief technology officer (CTO) or chief information officer (CIO), nor is it just a matter of expanding the C-suite to include a chief digital officer (CDO).”

As you think about where you are on the digital spectrum, the ebook coins the term digital acceleration to define, “an organization’s ability to effectively employ new technologies to innovate its current operating model and customer experience while also incubating new digital offerings and ways of working.”

What we like about this definition is that it addresses three key areas. First, the company’s ability to improve within the construct of its current business model. Second, a focus on the customer experience, which should be at the center of your business strategy. And third, innovation and the potential disruption of current processes and thinking.

To achieve sustainable, measurable growth, you need to assess where you are today in your level of digital mastery. This starts with two areas. The first is understanding your current digital skill sets and roles in the organization. The second is looking at your culture.

Digital mastery is going to initiate a lot of change which will make people uncomfortable, if you haven’t addressed the cultural appetite for this, it won’t matter if you hire the right executive leadership. According to Wipro Digital, half of digital transformation initiatives fail as a result of people issues.

By honestly assessing your current state, you can map your journey to digital acceleration. The ebook outlines a five step approach of digital growth for companies.

  1. Digitally Embarking – Siloed efforts and lack of a centrally defined strategy
  2. Digitally Evolving – Coordinated efforts and integrated decision making
  3. Digitally Steady – Investing in human capital at the same rate as technology investments
  4. Digitally Advancing – Hiring digital talent across all levels, functions, and roles
  5. Digitally Accelerating – Using new technologies to achieve meaningful business outcomes

Key to every step is to continue to hire for and focus on the technology and data expertise of the C-suite. The further down the path you are, the more you will need leaders who can marry, “digital dexterity with commercial acumen.” The importance of the C-suite can’t be underestimated. The ebook provides the following list of questions to consider.

Have you:

  • Reframed your mission and purpose to include new digital innovation opportunities?
  • Determined how to link digital to your growth strategy and deliver step-change outcomes to your customers?
  • Created parallel processes for incremental and disruptive digital innovation?
  • Organized and structured your data to fuel your digital advantage?
  • Developed an approach to build your AI capabilities?
  • Built the capability to tap into external ecosystems to bolster digital innovation?
  • Invested in the skills to win in the long term?

How you answer these questions will help you understand where you are in your journey to digital mastery. There is not a one-size-fits-all model you can apply. The approach you take will be unique to your company. It will take time to do it properly, but the benefits will reinvent the entire company. To learn more, and how our executive recruiters can help, send us a note.