Back to blogs

Dear Exec – Are YOU in the ‘NEW’?

Dec 17, 2018


In an era when Digital Transformation has become the need of the hour, how good are companies equipped to handle the emerging technologies? Let’s say companies found the right people for the right job, but what about the leaders? How good are they to visualize the digital strategy and to communicate the same needs?

Any typical company has a board, a CEO and the other CXOs and a mid-management level to execute the vision of the CEO and other CXO’s and to fulfil the obligations of and to the Board and the shareholders.  Let’s look into each group.

The Board

The board of directors are entrusted with guiding and controlling executives of the company in the areas of formulation, implementation and evaluation of the company’s objectives, strategies and policies. The board thus plays a critical role in the path a company takes. And with the above described digital journey being undertaken, companies have understood how important it is to have a diverse, digital- savvy board as well.   The next-gen directors bring not only the requisite experience but also but also a connection to the digital nature of the companies’ customers. Products and supply base.

19% of new independent directors of S&P 500 boards in 2017 have backgrounds in the technology or telecommunications industries and it is the highest among all sectors. And with the average age of the board member going down, it explains further what companies are looking for. The millennial aspirations are different from what the other generations. And to understand these needs it makes sense for Retail and Consumer products to bring in the next-gen to boards to connect more with the segment(Walmart brought in Instagram founder to their board)  These directors have the ability to change the nature of the conversation in the boardroom by including the topics of automation and Artificial Intelligence(AI) in processes, digital footprint expansion and meeting ever-changing customer preferences. But the challenge will be their integration into governance centric boards. If the other board members have an open mind about what the new-gen brings and if the new-gen can prove how the value for the shareholders will enhance, then we have a win-win situation.

The C-Suite

The CEO and other CXOs need to understand the business, the competitive environment, financials and how value can be generated for the shareholders. They need to be able to reach across their functional silos to find the right solutions for the company. CEOs need to take a holistic view of their industry, seeing opportunities, understanding when and how to pivot and building a digital strategy to meet the company goals, keeping all the challenges in mind.

In an era, where being well-informed is not a difficulty, the challenge is understanding relevance. When a lot of new information is available deciding what needs to be read, digested and explored itself becomes a challenge. Here is where the new age visualization dashboards can help a tech-savvy CEO. If the priorities are known, it becomes easier to use the right data. In a period where people can know what is happening in the opposite world in seconds, it is important that the workforce is also kept well informed. New-age communication tools and social media tools help CEO’s to have a line of dialogue open with the employees and other stakeholders. Also, the new age communication platform can help a CEO hear a brilliant idea from even the lowest rung in the organization, thus helping the idea of crowdsourcing of ideas for the firm! The only need of caution during all the adoption of technologies is missing the basic priorities can backfire as an unintended communication can even take organizations down!


The Middle Management Group

Recently, a major IT firm fired 200 senior leaders to leave as the company felt the leaders were not adapting to the “changing environment” The company also said that in the scheme of ‘newer digital requirements’ these employees did not possess the right skill sets needed. This news on deeper analysis sends a strong message- the requirements of the new age manager are just not people-centricity and project management. It is also an understanding of the new age technologies. These technologies cannot only help them connect with the tech-savvy millennials working with them but also bring in better value to the business by finding optimization methods in their domain with new-age digital technologies

But how can a leader or manager manage this change?

  • Communication and Learning – Frequent interactions with peers and even the younger generation can help a person gain basic knowledge. Also, instead of learning to code it is important to understand the usage of different apps and devices are used, which experiences are causing user headaches and the features that are working well or falling short.
  • Understanding what matters – In senior levels understanding digital platforms and how they drive different kinds of engagement and knowing which metrics are relevant to the organization’s goals are important. This also has a requirement of knowing how the target consumer interacts with the new-age technologies and how this interaction has shaped the very behaviour of the consumer. This understanding can help in tailoring the behaviour of the organization towards consumers. The managers need to know these technologies for they play a key role in not only executing these ideas but also communication these new thoughts to the people lower down, for that what is not understood cannot be communicated.
  • Bringing in the right people- If organizations feel that based on their market research, they do not have the digitally skilled people, it is time they are brought in at various levels, for in the uneasiness to change, the competitive advantage cannot be lost!

In short, the digital revolution has brought in challenges for people in the top of the pyramid to the people at the bottom. The organizations that will come out unscathed and victorious in the revolution are the ones that have the attitude to change even if it is not in their comfort zone. And there is no better time to learn about the world at the fingertips then now!


About the Author:

Rajalakshmi is part of the CEO’s Office at GAVS Technologies. She works closely with the C-Suite executives at GAVS by helping in the roll-out of various strategic initiatives by donning the hats of strategist, analyst and problem solver, as required. She is an avid reader, travel enthusiast, toastmaster, the occasional blogger and is game for new challenges and experiences.