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Are you being honest with yourself?

Do you know what your business hired your Chief of Customer Experience (CCE) or Head of Digital (HD) to do? Are they briefed to know how to take your business forward in the customer-centric digital age? As a CEO, do you know what they do and why?

There’s still a gap in understanding between traditional and digital functions in many businesses, with plenty of CEOs still hazy about what it is exactly these slightly mysterious digital types are meant to be doing.

To a degree, this lack of understanding is totally understandable, however, signs are that CEOs are gradually beginning to bridge their own digital gap. A recent Gartner study found that more CEOs are prioritising the need to lead their businesses in digital transformation.

While profit and growth are still the number one area of concern for CEOs, according to the study, IT and product development are fast rising as priority areas. “IT-related priorities, cited by 31% of CEOs, have never been this high in the history of the CEO survey,” said Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

“Almost twice as many CEOs are intent on building up in-house technology and digital capabilities as those who plan on outsourcing it (57% and 29%, respectively). We refer to this trend as the reinternalisation of IT – bringing information technology capability back to the core of the enterprise because of its renewed importance to competitive advantage. This is the building up of new-era technology skills and capabilities.”

Organisations are complex things. Possibly even more so today than ever before. After all, it’s no longer good enough to make a great product and sell it at a decent price to customers who want it, so you can make a healthy profit. (Although, in many cases, that’s still fine to do too.)

Nowadays, the expectation is that your product will be a platform from which to create an ecosystem of collaboration and aggregated value in order to engage and delight your community of brand advocates – so you can make a healthy profit.

In all seriousness, technology (online, digital, cloud computing, automation, and whatever else impacts your business) has burrowed its way into the heart of almost every business.

The essential power of digital technology is that it transforms almost everything into data, which can be broken down to tiny pieces and then reassembled in many different ways. That’s a powerful thing, but it can also be risky.

This process of taking things apart and putting them back together in new ways (products, services, markets, operations, business models, etc) requires people with specialist knowledge and often lateral or creative ways of thinking.

Enter your HD or CCE. These people are charged with making the digital magic happen. By ‘magic’, I don’t mean you blindly trust them and fall under the spell of their jargon-laden acronyms and strange mumblings about white hat and black hat SEO.

What you do need to do is put relevant metrics in place to measure your digital initiatives. As well as this, the metrics you used across areas of the business touched by digital initiatives also need to be redefined.

Whether it is with the aid of a chief information officer (CIO) or through the auspices of an existing C-level executive, digital initiatives need to be understood and defined well enough to then be measured.

Without that, you really are left wondering just what these people were hired to do. And that’s a pity, because these are the professionals who, properly empowered, will lead your company’s digital transformation.

Don’t just make it look like you’re serious about doing this. Don’t treat digital as a trendy add-on. Do as you would across all functions, and hold people and results to account. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

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