C-Suite Insights 23rd July 2021

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Boards are undergoing their own digital transformation


Harvard Business Review


As the pandemic accelerates digitalisation around the world, to what extent have corporate boards embraced new, digital-first tools and mindsets?


Based on a recent survey of almost 800 global board directors, the authors of this article discuss notable differences between countries and regions, before going on to highlight three overarching themes:

  1. Boards have largely struggled to implement digital technologies specifically designed to support board operations, instead relying on generic tools such as WeChat or Zoom.
  2. Boards were often similarly lacking in adequate cybersecurity measures to support sensitive digital communication, with less than half of directors reporting that their boards had taken action to improve data security during the pandemic.
  3. Despite widespread interest in developing digital competencies, many board directors felt they did not have access to as much training as they would like.

These trends suggest that there is still significant room for improvement when it comes to ensuring a successful digital transformation at the board level.


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Digital transformation strategy




To ensure the success of a digital transformation initiative, organisations should be willing to learn from the experiences of other companies. Recognising upfront the complexities involved will go a long way in ensuring project success.


Adopting the agile methodology is a good approach to implement digital transformation. The core tenet of agile methodology is to manage a project by segmenting it into series of steps. It involves constant collaboration with stakeholders and continuous improvement at every stage. The focus is on the ultimate objective and cross-functional team collaboration - always prioritising test-and-learn methods over rigid adherence to the laid-out plan.


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Bridging the transformation divide




This article argues that organisations that recognise that all transformations have aspects of both digital and traditional business (and that those transformations have a different focus) are generally the ones that succeed.


Transformation can be difficult and risky, but by understanding the type of transformation and the associated success factors, companies can overcome the challenge.


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