Six Things I Learned from Interviewing Leaders about Digital Transformation

1. Digital transformation triggers a mindset shift

During the interviews, I noticed that several leaders described similar mindset shifts in their organizations:

  • Time to develop digital products is significantly shorter than time to develop physical products.
  • Lifespan of a digital product is shorter than a lifespan of a physical product.
  • Organizations must be able to make decisions faster.
  • In a fast moving environment, customer focus is more important than ever.

2. Technology is the easiest and culture is the hardest part of digital transformation

Building actual digital products was seen easy compared to the changes needed to alter organizational culture.

Leaders were describing changes in all parts of their organizational culture including processes, capabilities, decision making and roles.

3. Organizations use partner networks to gain agility

Many organizations had realized that building needed capabilities in their own organization would have taken too long. This made organizations to utilize partners in organizations’ digital transformation.

4. Leaders help their organizations tolerate uncertainty

Leaders we interviewed faced uncertainty when planning the transition. They had several possible options and the path they took was often not obvious.

These leaders were able to choose the path and get commitments from their organizations to act on the change.

5. Calculating ROI for digital initiatives is often hard

If the digital initiatives aim for new business, it is often quite hard to build the business case. For many forerunner company it was obvious they needed to utilize new technology in their organization.

Quite many of the organizations had decided to allow their teams develop digital concepts without calculating business cases at least not in the beginning.

6. The speed of the change is increasing

New technologies, consumerization, blurred boundaries between industries and many other changes are affecting businesses at the same time.

One thing that leaders seemed to agree was that the speed of the change is only going to increase!

Kati Lehmuskoski

Few months ago Timo Savolainen, the founder of the Finnish digital transformation LinkedIn group called me to talk about his book idea. The idea was to tell positive stories of digital transformation leaders.

Since then we have been interviewing leaders who have performed a successful change in their organizations. Here are six key things I learned from interviewing leaders about Digital Transformation.