ceo role in digital transformation

CEO and Digital transformation

Changes in tide overnight

We have seen too many examples of Innovation and  breakthroughs changing the tide overnight. We see that when digital cameras ended Kodak’s film dominance. We see Nokia’s function phone being affected by the strong sales of  smartphones. We see the uprising of online shopping portals such as Amazon  changing our shopping behaviours. Companies that do not transform in time risk becoming obsolete.

John Chambers, retiring Cisco CEO predicts that 40% of today’s businesses will fail in the next 10 years. 70% will make efforts at Digital Transformation but only 30% will succeed. Source: “Retiring Cisco CEO delivers dire prediction: 40 percent of companies will be dead in 10 years” – Julie Bort, Business Insider, June 2015

In the laps of the CEO

Digital Transformation can drastically impact the business model and bottom line. It has become so huge a concern that it can no longer be contained in the care of the CIO.

Shareholders and boards are looking for CEOs that can drive Digital Transformation. Hopefully to find the next pot of gold from Digital Transformation or simply just to stay relevant in the changing market.

Culture. The one place to start with

Whether you are heading a small startup or a MNC, building the innovative culture is the first stop. It may even be the key thing that will keep the innovative engine running.

We believe Culture is the key driver to Digital  Transformation within the company. Just like how children follows the footsteps of the parents and seek to earn their affirmations; the way you embrace new ideas and technology and how you reward those who does so will be a key driving force.

Be Curious

Be curious about the latest in technology and methodology. Read it up. Example Big Data, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence etc. Not only the technologies but also the methodologies of startups. (Our Series on Digital Transformation in Singapore is a good place to start. With bite size and succinct information to keep readers informed.)

Set an example to understand and dig deep within them to see how these can be applied to your company. Discuss these with your people. Let them know that the CEO is interested.

Set up a team

If resources permits, a team or department can be set aside to explore innovation.  This may entail disrupting staff from their existing job functions, pulling them into this team for a short period of time e.g. 6- 12 months. A proper HR process flow has to be in place to support this.

Funds should also be set aside for these ventures as it will entail research, surveys and building of minimum viable products to test hypothesis.

Reward the process, not the outcome

Reward the process not the outcome. Reward people based on the effort to explore even if their venture did not result in success. The lessons learnt is success itself. We can reference to the fail fast methodology.

The culture of leaning and sharing between the staff and departments

Encourage sharing and setting up platforms for that to take place. The innovations from one department can likely be improvise and adapted to another. The tools or vendors discovered by one may benefit the other. Reward the department that share as well as the department that is humble with the willingness to learn and implement the ideas from another team.

The above article is part of the Digital Transformation Series by SQL View. Our flagship software KRIS Document Management System has been the cornerstone of Digital Transformation efforts of organisations small and large. Our software can be found in the offices of Far East Organisation, Singapore Post, NTUC and more.

sunset industry

Sunset Industry & Digital Transformation

A real-life example can help to understand and appreciate what a digital transformation journey entails, and the value it can bring for a company. Let’s take a look at the classic example of how Pitney Bowes, an American company with roots in the sunset mailing industry, has transformed.

They survived through

  1. Changing the product & services they offer to keep up with changing demands of the consumers. This is the most important aspect of their change in our opinion.
  2. Using new tools to deliver their products and services.
  3. Using new tools to increase their efficiency to compete with others already in the sphere.

The case of Pitney Bowes

Pitney Bowes is a nearing century-old company with its businesses grounded in the mailing device industry. However, with the rise of digital technologies in the 2000s, the company has the foresight to know that this will affect its business negatively and they cannot stay status quo. They started to acquire and diversify into different industries. In 2008, the financial tsunami swept by and its mailing business was badly hit. Also, the cost pressure arising from the numerous business acquisitions compounded the issue. There was a need to resolve this.

A Centralised System

The company started looking into streamlining their business processes. As a result of acquiring so many businesses, the company was operating with several different supporting systems and had close to 40 general ledgers. There was a need to adopt a centralised system that was based on up-to-date technologies. Pitney Bowes acted swiftly with this adoption and it resulted in decrease in the company expenses by over 100 million. They then channeled these cost-savings to into product innovation.

Pitney Bowes’ strategic shift from just basing its business on the mail devices (which they see its value dwindle by the day) to technology-fueled growth markets such as shipping and e-commerce is worth highlighting. These developments fueled growth and increased competitiveness for the company, who reported their fastest annual revenue growth in a decade, in 2017.

As part of its digital transformation journey, Pitney Bowes combined mailing and the use technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) to help businesses garner information to better deliver client-centric services. This helps companies, which they serve, use mail in a more effective way reach their target audience. In the same thread, Pitney Bowes use tracking and delivery information to predict when a parcel will reach the consumer as part of its shipping endeavour. Such value-add is important for companies to remain competitive amidst increasing consumer expectations.

The organisation continued to evolve and innovate. Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud was introduced in 2016 to empower their clients to identify customers, uncover opportunities, power shipping, facilitate communication, and manage transactions.

You can check out the interview with Pitney Bowes’ Chief Executive Officer, Marc Lautenbach, on their digital journey via the following link: https://www.coursera.org/lecture/bcg-uva-darden-digital- transformation/interview-with-pitney-bowes-ceo-marc-lautenbach-iUlhI

(Resource credits: Digital Transformation course by Boston Consulting Group and the University of Virginia on Coursera)

Continuous Process to Stay Competitive

As you can see from the Pitney Bowes’ example, digital transformation takes time and is not a once-off change. In fact, it is a continuous process that can help companies stay competitive and adaptable as a company’s goals, needs and environment evolve. When technologies are applied strategically, organisations can reap the benefits of staying competitive and relevant as such transformation can translate into efficiency, cost-savings and also propel new areas of growth for companies.

The above article is part of the Digital Transformation Series by SQL View. Our flagship software KRIS Document Management System has been the cornerstone of Digital Transformation efforts of organisations small and large. Our software can be found in the offices of Far East Organisation, Singapore Post, NTUC and more.