Leadership Lessons in Digital Transformation

How do leaders build a digital transformation strategy in 2022? Watch these technology executives debate the lessons they have learned.

Spurred on by the acceleration of technology, many companies are enhancing existing business practices through digital transformation. But what are the most effective ways companies can implement these digital changes to build an effective digital transformation strategy? In an attempt to answer that question, four technology leaders share the leadership lessons other executives should know about.

For many companies, digital transformation can be a daunting process. As technological developments continue to accelerate, it can be difficult to narrow down the exact changes that will be most beneficial for a business. That said, these challenges can be overcome, especially under the direction of strong digital leaders who are collaborative, adaptive, and understand how to integrate their strategy into the entire organisation.

With Keme Nzerem moderating, the participants of this roundtable include:

Throughout the discussion, moderator Keme Nzerem asked each participant to share the leadership lessons they discovered at their respective workplaces.


A Strong Digital Transformation Strategy

Rashmi Kumar, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s current CIO, kick-started the discussion on digital

transformation. When discussing her own experiences working for the tech giant, she delved into the company’s shift from product to product-as-a-service; a starting point for the first leadership lesson of the debate.

“In 2019, our CEO announced we will offer all our products as a service,” Rashmi said, “we had the platform ready to create that differentiated experience, going from a physical product of hardware services, servers, and computer storage, to a product-as-a-service form of consumption.”

During this five-year transition, Rashmi noticed that HPE's digital transformation strategy succeeded because they had already established a strong digital core in the first place. This digital core encompassed how they organised management, the supply chain, and logistics.


Incremental Changes Can Succeed

Georgina Owens, the CTO at financial provider Liberis, was the next expert to share an important leadership lesson.

Getting straight to the point, she stated, “transformations don’t need to be huge.”

An effective digital transformation strategy does not always require large-scale changes. 

Incremental changes can be just as effective, insofar as they enhance the customer experience overall.

Georgina then backed up her point by bringing up the company’s mobile app. Although the app is not a monumental technological development by any means, it is still a game changer for Liberis’ customers, providing them with a faster, more efficient user experience.

Building on this insight, Lorna Allan, the CIO at Stepchange Debt Charity, agreed with Georgina’s point, bringing up Stepchange’s plan activation portal as another example of an incremental change with mighty results.

“We embarked, about four years ago, on a transformation to really open up access to our services and balance out a digital experience with a personal experience,” she stated.

By implementing a portal—that features services like email signatures and document

uploads—Stepchange made it far easier for clients to receive debt advice. Although she admitted the portal wasn’t revolutionary in terms of eCommerce or other services, it provides a quick and easy experience for anyone who urgently needs help; a valuable lesson other executives should take note of.


Let Digital Meet Physical

Bringing a different perspective to the debate, Deborah Haworth, the CISO at Penguin Random

House, shed light on the publishing industry in relation to digital transformation. Focusing on the intersection where physical meets digital, she highlighted how digitalisation does not

mark the end of physical sales despite the popularity of eBooks and audiobooks.

“There’s still a huge demand for physical products,” she explained, “we still sell far more physical books than we do digital products. So our transformation harkens back to what Rashmi was talking about, transforming the supply chain.”

Expanding on this point, Deborah described the successful outcome of this endeavour. By speeding up the supply chain with technology, she noted that Penguin was able to keep up with increasing customer demand for services like next-day delivery. An effective digital transformation strategy, then, should speed up business processes already in place, while anticipating the needs of customers.

This article on digital transformation strategy was made in partnership with HPE.

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