Workforce Planning in the Digital Age

Digital is plunging HRDs into numerous quandaries. How can they predict what new roles will arise and which will disappear? How can they train staff accordingly, and where will they find talent to plug the gaps? These questions are putting greater emphasis on data analytics and the role of strategic workforce planning.

“As well as the impact of a contingent workforce, we’re seeing a rise in remote working – which can potentially offer 24/7 online capacity. This approach to flexible working will change the nature of the workplace,” says Mark Spelman, Member of the Executive Committee at The World Economic Forum (WEF), who has spoken at a number of Criticaleye events on global changes to the workforce.

“We’re also about to move into an era in which everything is connected, online and real time. We’ll be in a hugely different place. I’m not sure our workforce strategies are focused enough on the exponential disruption of technology,” Mark adds.

In a world where digital innovation regularly makes the unpredictable a reality, how can businesses successfully plan their workforce requirements?

Find the right person for the right role

As Executive Director for People Advisory Services and Data Analytics at EY, it’s Nathan Sasto’s job to find practical solutions for tomorrow’s talent dilemmas. One of which is how best to access the gig economy – a pool of specialist employees who can drop into a business to deliver a specific, short-term project.

“The trend towards the gig economy is certainly one of the major impetuses we’re seeing from a client perspective. We’re doing a lot of work in financial services on this, helping them to understand which roles are feasible for them to outsource,” Nathan says.

Crisis, a charity that offers temporary accommodation and support to the homeless, is one of the many organisations to regularly tap into the community of temporary workers.

Jane Furniss, Criticaleye Board Mentor and former Deputy Chair at the organisation explains: “Crisis employs around 10,000 volunteers each autumn to run their Christmas events. Choice and having control over when and where they work is a huge factor in whether they come back to volunteer again. Because they aren’t paid, they need to feel engaged and be happy with the team they work with.”

Engaging an unpaid workforce means offering roles uniquely enticing to each volunteer – and that requires a lot of data crunching. Nathan knows all too well how complicated, yet rewarding, that task can be.

When he joined EY in 2012, Nathan’s first project was to plan the volunteer workforce requirements for the London Olympics. “They needed 70,000 volunteers to run the Olympic and Paralympic games, covering 3,500 jobs ranging from medics to drivers,” he explains.

“The HR Director at the time compared it to building a Fortune 500 company in three months and then tearing it down – that was the scale of the problem.”

To address this, Nathan and his team built an artificial intelligence-based matching system, comparing over 500 million data points on languages, skills, experience and preference to reach an optimal workforce distribution. He explains: “Once we were up and running, a HR allocation task that previously took 13 people one month to carry out, took a single person just four hours.”

Analytics such as this allow organisations to map their staff requirements against a pool of talent – be that internal or external – and do it in a way that caters to different personalities, desires and skills.

Train your staff to be digitally fluent

Another critical dilemma for HRDs is the need to re-educate the workforce for tomorrow’s employment landscape.

“One of the issues we face is in retraining for digital fluency. We must work out how to move people who were trained to work in one way into a digital world,” says Mark. “Half of the people coming into the workforce today will live until they’re 100. Life-long learning will be critical going forward. I’d argue that the ability to keep your top 30 per cent of staff will depend on your long-term corporate training.”

David Grounds, who supports corporate business leaders in his role as Relationship Manager at Criticaleye, says: “Continuous learning is becoming an economic imperative, it’s no longer enough to come into an industry with a qualification and think you’re the finished article. I see that need at a senior leadership level and right through the business.”

“While constant self-improvement has always been a worthy pursuit, the rate at which technology is changing the business environment means it’s now a priority.”

According to Nathan, a common problem is predicting where best to invest your efforts. “We talk about digital skills a lot but it’s quite a challenge to take that esoteric concept into practical measures, roles and functions,” he explains.

Again, data can help. Analytics capabilities similar to those used by Crisis and the London Olympics to map talent, can be employed to determine what skills will be required for newly developing jobs.

“Imagine all the available roles were on a platter and you could see what skills and attributes were needed for each – you could tell very easily which you’re suited to and what you’d need to do to move between those roles. That’s changing the vertical succession plan and really empowering people to plan their careers effectively,” says Nathan.

Address the fear of uncertainty

This kind of insight can help protect individuals from what the WEFs predicts will be five million job losses due to automation by 2020. HRDs must play their part in supporting staff through that uncomfortable process, quelling concerns and retraining where possible.

As Mark says: “When looking at strategic workforce planning we need to recognise that it’s not just about opportunity and the upside, it’s also about managing the fears associated with the downside.”

Jane warns that if businesses fail to address these insecurities they may see their talent drain away. “Fear of uncertainty about job security can lead some of your best people to go. You can end up with people who either don’t understand the change that is happening or aren’t able to get jobs elsewhere,” she says.

“Your worst case scenario is that you lose the really good people who can obtain jobs elsewhere, while retaining the not-so-good who can’t.”

These thoughts were shared during a recent Criticaleye Global Conference Call on Making Sense of Strategic Workforce Planning.

By Mary-Anne Baldwin, Editor, Corporate

Don’t miss our next Community Update on the importance of apprenticeships.

Questioning Digital Transformation

Forget legacy systems, many corporates are holding onto legacy revenue streams – meanwhile agile start-ups are nibbling away at their profits. The development of digital technology waits for no one, so CEOs and their teams need to instigate change.

The average life span of an S&P 500 company will decrease from 60 to less than 15 years by 2020 and, at the current churn rate, 75 per cent will be replaced by 2027. These stats echoed through the room during our recent Digital Retreat, held in association with Accenture Digital, where attendees gathered to discuss what digital means to them.

Capturing what was said at the event, here we highlight four questions that leaders should ask themselves when faced with digital transformation:

What problem are we trying to fix? 

Figure out what you want to do before you roll out new technology.
Arabel Bailey, Managing Director and Digital Lead for the UK & Ireland at Accenture, says you must start with the problem you’re trying to solve. “Traditional organisations are often organised around product lines rather than customer needs.

“Many understand the theory of digital and being more customer centric but don’t know how to execute it.”

Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK, spoke of his company’s digital journey, which for a business established over 300 years ago has been a difficult undertaking. He believes that it’s all down to strategy and a focus on the customer: “Strategy is three questions: Where are we now? Where do we want to go? How are we going to get there?

“We set up two groups of 10 to 12 people to come up with the answers. One thing to come out of it was that every product we provide is a means to an end, rather than an end itself.”

Another key finding was that customers want speed and convenience. “We realised mobile was the way to go. We built a mobile app and launched it in July 2012,” Ashok explained. “Ninety-two per cent of all payments are now done on mobile, it’s an incredible force.”

Do we know what’s happening in other companies and sectors? 

It’s important to have antenna pointed to the outside world. This is particularly the case when agile start-ups are springing up all around you.

Narry Singh, Managing Director and Head of Digital Strategy for EALA at Accenture, who spent 20 years living and working in Silicon Valley before relocating to London in 2014, likened these start-ups to a thousand mice nibbling away at the profits of those too slow to brush them off.

Using a home improvement retailer as an example, he listed over 15 platforms − such as Pinterest, TaskRabbit and Houzz – that could disrupt its industry.

“The biggest risk to incumbents from start-ups is their speed, talent, capital and fresh brands,” Narry said. “Look at funding sources like Angelslist.com and see where the ‘smart’ money is going.”

As fintech companies rise seemingly from nothing, established businesses must place more focus on price and margin. Speaking about Barclays, Ashok explained: “For every £1 of revenue my expenses are 51p. For companies that are digitised it’s around 22p. There is a sense of urgency to move from 51p to 22p, it’s in our interest to drop prices before we are forced to.”

From 2013 to 2015, Barclays made a cost base saving of £600 million. However, Ashok said there’s still much more to do.

Are we prepared for new ways of working? 

Adapting to the challenges and opportunities new technology brings often requires major organisational change.

Bal Samra Commercial Director at the BBC and Managing Director of BBC Television, relayed his experience of leading projects such as BBC Online, the iPlayer and BBC Store. He advised leaders to challenge the traditional boundaries and skills within the organisation.

“We have combined roles at BBC Three – we’ve developed new ones by mixing up social media and content,” he said. “We set up an academy to reskill the organisation and also launched an apprentice scheme that allows us to tap into a completely new pool of people.”

Bal also endorsed the creation of incubated teams whose sole purpose is innovating with new technology. “Separate teams work for big change,” he said. “It can be hard to identify measures of success at the beginning. Support them and let people get on with it, but have a gated approach. If nothing happens in six months’ time, it needs to be looked at.”

How do we get everyone within the organisation to work together? 

Legacy systems and getting buy-in from the board were cited as two of the main obstacles. Andrew Minton, Managing Director at Criticaleye, said: “Digital transformation is a tough job for traditional organisations with long-established operating models and legacy technology infrastructures. Every organisation will be at a different stage when it comes to digital maturity, but it’s a task leaders can’t ignore.”

Whether it’s being spurred on by the chief digital officer, chief technology officer or the chief exec, they need to translate it into something the board can understand.

For Arabel, examples can bring ideas to life: “Build a prototype, get customer feedback and present it to the board. Do things in a small way and then think about how to scale it, rather than thinking about full blown digital transformation all at once.”

Yet it’s critical to stress the sense of urgency for change. “Forget legacy systems, we have legacy revenue streams and they are declining. We need to have the courage to say: ‘Let’s move ahead’,” Ashok explained. “I have to go to the board and say: ‘Let’s get rid of those legacy revenue streams.’ If I don’t, the business will disappear before our eyes.”

It’s not just about the board and leadership team, colleagues across the business need to be aligned. Ashok demonstrated the importance of this by revealing that when Barclays’ mobile app was first launched it didn’t get the pickup they’d anticipated – staff weren’t telling customers about it.

“We needed to get colleagues excited about it,” he said. “But how could we get them excited about it if they didn’t have wi-fi in branches? So, we put wi-fi and 10,000 iPads into branches. The board asked how this would make money; it wouldn’t but it was something we had to do.”

Getting the organisational mindset to shift is a difficult task, but it has to be done. Ashok concluded: “It’s always a heavier challenge at the beginning. It’s about saying: ‘Trust me’.

“Now, it’s about saying: ‘Look what we’ve done,’ and to continue beating that drum.”
By Dawn Murden, Editor, Advisory

What are your thoughts on digital transformation? If you have an opinion that you’d like to share, please email Dawn at dawn@criticaleye.com 

Read more from Bal Samra on leading breakthrough innovation

Find out more about our upcoming CEO Retreat, in association with Accenture Strategy.

 

How CEOs Set the Pace in Asia

Reimagining the customer experience is especially difficult for Asia’s CEOs and senior executives. It’s harder for them to justify a radical overhaul of product or service delivery because, unlike those in the more mature markets of Europe and North America, their organisation is likely to be growing rapidly.

But that’s not an excuse to shy away from change. China already has the world’s largest population of digital consumers, with over 550 million mobile internet users and an infrastructure that’s improving through the adoption of 3G and 4G networks. The rise of cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things is also completely reshaping delivery models in numerous industries, from financial services to retail and healthcare.

At Criticaleye’s Asia Leadership Retreat 2015, held in association with Accenture, Cisco Systems and the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), the focus was on how regional business leaders are adjusting their strategies to remain customer-focused in the face of new technology.

During the course of the two-day, Hong Kong-based Retreat, five themes emerged that executives need to bear in mind in order to succeed:

We’re entering the next era of digital 

Businesses will lose market share if they don’t provide customers with the latest digital services. Olof Schybergson, CEO and co-founder of design consultancy Fjord, which is part of Accenture Interactive, believes “we are now entering the third phase of digital – it will be as disruptive as mobile was and the web before that”.

A significant element of this new era will be the connectivity of devices, which is why Xiangli Chen, Vice-President & Chief Technology Officer of GE China, argues that success will rely on the ability to integrate information and the industrial internet. “Less than one per cent of the data generated by machines is actually used at present. As this changes, data will become a goldmine.

There’s no question that investment in digital is accelerating. During the first nine months of this year, organisations in the Asia Pacific region invested approximately $3.5 billion in financial technology, this compares to $880 million throughout the whole of 2014, according to a report by Accenture.

Calling design gurus, social hackers and mobile evangelists 

The onus is on organisations to be far more imaginative about recruitment at all levels. John Brisco, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer and Chief Operations Officer for Manulife Asia, says the financial services company has introduced new roles in order to disrupt the business’ status-quo, including “design gurus, social hackers and mobile evangelists”.

He said: “They have enthusiasm and are passionate about what they are trying to create; they don’t think within the traditional boundaries. The challenge is to deliver at pace – if you fail to do that, the type of talent you’re bringing in will walk.

It’s all part of a broader, strategic reappraisal of how services are delivered. “The way a life insurer and bank might traditionally go about a project would actually not allow us to win in the future,” said John. “How do we create a mindset that lets us change the speed at which we do things?”

This is not only applicable to those in financial services. Hera Siu, Managing Director of Greater China for education company Pearson, described how she brought in six new people to form her top team, each from a different industry. She explained how “they were tasked with transforming the business by introducing a new service model, and they had to do this while moving at a faster pace than the organisation was used to”.

From Shanghai to Silicon Valley, start-ups are changing the game 

Corporates are paying serious attention to start-ups. David Schillmoeller, Chief Customer Officer of Prudential Corporation Asia, said there is an emphasis on cross-functional collaboration and partnerships that stimulate innovation: “It’s helping with completely new ecosystem propositions – we have a great business model and we believe, by embracing disruption, we can make it better.”

John of Manulife Asia commented: “We are developing a number of different partnerships with a variety of firms. This includes boutique start-ups in Silicon Valley and Shanghai that have pieces of the ecosystem which, in the future, might just differentiate us. We might not do something straight away, but we are creating relationships.”

In Asia, China is the market that really matters

Although China’s GDP may have fallen to 7.2 per cent, it would be foolhardy to suggest its economic power is waning.

Hellmut Schütte, Dean Emeritus of CEIBS, noted that for most companies, China continues to make up over 50 per cent of revenue in the region: “When you look at your global portfolio as a multinational and then survey economic GDP growth over the next ten years, only two countries matter: China and the US. They are the only countries where there will be a significant amount of additional money to grow your business.”

China demands respect. Martin Cubbon, Finance and Corporate Development Director of the diversified conglomerate Swire Pacific, commented: “The first thing you need to acknowledge when you enter a new market, such as China, is the odds are always stacked against you… There is asymmetry of information as the locals will always know more than you.”

It’s important to coolly assess whether an organisation has the right culture for doing business and if the market dynamics are favourable. “In China, you need to be very cost competitive in whatever you do… because seemingly there is never an end to new capacity. No matter how good your product, if you can’t compete on cost you’ve no chance of making money,” Martin added.

There is a renewed emphasis on leadership 

Finding people with the right technical skills is only half of the battle for corporates in the region. Matthew Blagg, CEO of Criticaleye, noted: “There is no doubt that technology is changing the business landscape in Asia. However, I firmly believe that digital is an enabler and that an organisation’s ability to succeed absolutely depends on the leadership qualities of the CEO and their senior executive team.”

Hera of Pearson commented on how important it is to remember that “hiring a team doesn’t mean you have teamwork”. She explained that “you need each team member to work together and have a shared sense of purpose”. As a way of creating this dynamic, she brought in KPIs and a scorecard for the team she had hired, using both quantitative and qualitative information to find out if they were aligned.

For Ian Stone, Criticaleye Board Mentor and Non-executive Director of Chinese internet giant Tencent, it comes back to the CEO and their ability to build trust: “In my experience, the great leaders are able to demonstrate they really know the business to investors and stakeholders. They also respect the knowledge and expertise that’s within the company and, in turn, command respect back.”

By Marc Barber, Managing Editor, Criticaleye

Do you have a view on this subject? If you have an opinion you’d like to share, please email Marc at: marc@criticaleye.com

https://twitter.com/criticaleyeuk

 

Making Big Bets on Digital

Conversations about ‘digital business’ can be confusing. No doubt there will be reference to a burning platform, followed by the dark art of culture change. You can also almost guarantee a warning that unless a strategy is in place, digitally savvy competitors will devour you and your industry.

 
For large organisations with long-established operating models, adapting to digital is tough. In the past five years, online and mobile have transformed consumer behaviour and it’s evident that the Internet of Things – which will bring us wearable devices, smart homes and driverless cars – will continue this disruption.

 
“It’s clear how much digital technology has become a part of our everyday lives and how much it has changed them,” says Andrew Minton, Executive Director at Criticaleye.

 
“Reflecting on the technological advances we’ve already witnessed should quash any fears we might have about change and help us visualise the positive impact current digital innovations could have on the future,” he adds. “Digital is no longer a choice. It’s a necessity that no company can afford to ignore.”

 
At a recent Criticaleye Discussion Group, Competing to Win in the Digital Age, held in association with Accenture Strategy, attendees fought through the fog around digitisation by sharing practical experiences of what it means to them and their businesses.

 
Here are three key themes that emerged:

 
1) Digitisation improves efficiency 

 
If there’s logic behind technology improving service delivery, don’t be afraid to embrace it. At Network Rail, there’s a multimillion pound project underway to digitise information systems that date back to the 1830s. “Data and understanding are vital as they will help improve efficiency,” says Jane Simpson, Chief Engineer at Network Rail.

 
This includes a wide variety of changes, from the introduction of apps for staff to report faults, to the adoption of track recognition technology that compares one data run to another. The latter saves an individual from having to walk miles upon miles of track, trying to spot if anything is awry.

 
But often, such changes won’t occur unless everyone sees the logic. “Never underestimate the buy-in you need from the end-user and the leaders in an organisation,” Jane warns.

 
2) There is a skills shortage…

 
…well, sort of.

 
It seems almost anyone born with an iPod in their mouth has star quality.

 
Martin Hess, Vice President of Enterprise Services Sales for UK&I at IT concern Hewlett-Packard, states there is a notable generation gap when it comes to digital.

 
“Organisations are trying to find ways to exploit technology but the leaders don’t necessarily get it,” he says. “They may know how to use social media but they think about it in a very different way. On the flipside, younger people don’t yet have the business acumen and, as a consequence, the hierarchy of digital knowledge in organisations is upside down.”

 
While fast-tracking millennials to the boardroom may be a step too far, the demand for a digital environment is making other companies revisit the traditional model for career progression. At the very least, the onus is on directors to boost their digital brainpower.

 
“People still think you need a NED in the boardroom to cover all of these issues,” says Samantha Barber, Non-executive Director of electricity company Iberdrola. According to her, what’s important is “the way the board interacts with external experts and sets aside strategic time to make sure they get the right analysis on trends in order to stay ahead of the game”.

 
Jonathan Hunter, Managing Director of Accenture Strategy, states that one of the biggest barriers is people being unable to conceptualise how a business can operate differently: “There is a degree of disconnect between the way people think about how work has to be done and the way that new technology can enable them.”

 
It’s too easy to attribute this to a ‘generational thing’, claims Jonathan. “It’s more about an individual’s choice and comfort around the way they engage with digital platforms and new technology,” he adds.

 
3) Only a few can moonwalk

 
Google’s Larry Page likes to talk about ‘moon shots’, whereby big bets are made on revolutionary ideas.

 
It’s fair to say that not every company can approach innovation in the same way. Talk about ‘going for the moon’ will get little airtime when the daily focus is on targets and performance.

 
The thing is, when competitors emerge seemingly from nowhere, winning customers and operating at minimal marginal cost, something has to change. “New entrants are able to have a dramatic effect on the market due to how quickly they can scale consumer use, whereas previously it took a lot longer to get traction,” says Jonathan.

 
This is where finding the balance between the old business model and the new really tests executives’ leadership abilities.

 
Claudio Righetti, Managing Director and CEO of consumer goods company Fontem Ventures, acknowledges that so-called agility in decision-making should be welcomed, but it can be difficult to execute, especially in industries that still have long lead times in production. This is when you need buy-in from the top, whereby people are encouraged to test new ideas early and take calculated risks.

 
“You can only be successful if you are willing to fail. But if you fail, you need to do this cheaply and move on quickly,” says Claudio. “If you have the right leadership you can establish this way of working and overcome the typical organisational push-back.”

 
Regardless of the sector or transformation being delivered, this is the message that keeps being told.

 
Want to find out more about digital? Read Staying Ahead of the Game

 
By Marc Barber, Editor

 
Do you have a view on this subject? If you have an opinion that you’d like to share, please email Marc at: marcb@criticaleye.net

 
https://twitter.com/criticaleyeuk

 

The Millennial Mindset

It’s not all hashtags and selfies when it comes to the millennial generation. Beyond their comfort and ease with new technology, those born between 1980 and the early 2000s think differently about the world of work. This is something boards need to understand as these digital natives inevitably replace older employees and, in the not too distant future, become the leaders of tomorrow.

It’s predicted this demographic will make up approximately 40-50 per cent of the workforce by 2020. Jo Whitfield, Vice President of Operations, eCommerce and Strategy for George at Asda, says: “Businesses are adapting but at a slower rate than customers and millennials expect… You’ve got to change your mindset and understand the world that millennials have grown up in is actually the world we are trading in.”

Being born into an environment of rapidly evolving consumer electronics – from laptops and MP3 players, to tablets and smartphones – means new technology has become second nature. “We have individuals who have grown up with technological advancement at a pace never seen before, with information at their fingertips,” comments Kris Webb, Senior Vice President of Pharma Europe and Emerging Markets, Asia Pacific & Japan at GlaxoSmithKline.

Payal Vasudeva, Managing Director for Accenture Strategy and UK & Ireland Talent & Organisation Lead, says: “The way they integrate with technology is more seamless and they expect to use the same devices at work as they do in their social lives, with the majority using two or three devices a day.

“They want greater flexibility, with better work/life integration… They are also less inclined to work within hierarchies and would rather form networks and communities to actively collaborate and problem solve.”

This point is echoed by Susan Pointer, Senior Director for Public Policy & Government Relations across Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa & Russia at Google: “Millennials expect straight-talking openness; interesting, meaningful and impactful work and flexible work conditions – measured by quality of output, rather than by strictly managed hours of input. There is little time for unnecessary hierarchy and the expectation is that they will be empowered to contribute to the maximum of their ability regardless of level or title.”

Digital on the inside

Businesses have been busy creating a seamless multichannel experience externally for customers, but it’s time leaders turn their focus inside the organisation. Clodagh Murphy, Managing Director of technology services provider Eclipse Internet says senior executives need to “embrace technology and think: How can I use it to make our organisation a better place to work so that I can attract and retain the best talent?”

Payal agrees: “We need to challenge our thinking on the talent lifecycle in order to foster a culture of knowledge sharing, innovation and engagement, with processes and tools that truly enable this.”

This should start at recruitment and go right through to daily operations. “A number of companies use app-based recruitment which attracts those with a ‘millennial mindset’ by putting the experience in the palm of the candidate’s hand,” adds Payal. “Workplace content sharing is on the rise, catering to how employees engage with an organisation, consume information and problem solve… Gamification of learning on-the-go appeals to the consumer in all of us and is transforming how we develop skills and capabilities.”

Mike Tye, CEO at hospitality concern Spirit Pub Company, says: “Our online training is designed to deliver bite-sized, fun, interactive learning – using the principles of gamification. This is most suitable to younger generations… but hopefully older people are used to mobile devices [as well].

“We have a closed Facebook group with around 6,000 members, which is very much run by employees for recognition, questions and support. We have also recently given all staff access to the company intranet.”

It’s about empowering staff through technology. “Engagement will not be sufficient to deliver top-class results,” adds Mike. “For that to be the case there needs to be more: a true commitment from employees to the ambition of the organisation and a belief that they can make a difference.”

Susan from Google says: “Collaboration should be as wide as possible… consciously embracing the fact that the best ideas do not always emerge from the most obvious places – and that’s OK.”

Board’s eye view  

It’s imperative that the board take the issue of talent seriously in order to bring in the right mixture of skills. “One of the most important things that a company needs to drive future value is good talent,” says Iain Ferguson, Chairman of employment services company Optionis Group and information management firm EDM Group. “It is a very competitive market, and so it’s an important board level requirement to make sure that we’re competitive and attracting the best talent, no matter what age they are…

“I’m interested in who they are, what they bring to the company and how we can help them perform better.”

Susan comments: “Businesses should focus on attracting the best talent for their current and future needs, regardless of age. Build a great organisation and people will want to come – the best talent will always be attracted to exciting and impactful organisations.”

The point is that executive and non-executive directors must have a clear line of sight when it comes to the different needs and expectations of a diverse, multigenerational workforce. Payal says: “Boards needs to ensure they are building inclusive environments that all of their employees… thrive in by creating a more customised value proposition.”

Jo says: “A diverse workforce is important. We do business in a diverse world and you need to reflect the diversity of your customer base.

“Leaders need to understand… the differences that exist between generations, and use that to create value. It’s finding the knit between your current culture for all employees.”

I hope to see you soon.

Matthew

https://twitter.com/criticaleyeUK

Leading a Digital Culture

Comm update_14 JanuaryAs new technology continues to turn traditional business models upside down, the onus is on executive teams to embrace change while encouraging employees to think and act differently. It means challenging conventional approaches, testing ideas and creating a ‘digital culture’ within an organisation which is attuned to and reflective of changing customer expectations. It’s inevitable that the companies that fail to adapt will struggle to compete effectively.

For large, well-established organisations, deep-rooted changes are required. Julian Payne, Line of Business Director for Solutions at De La Rue, a supplier of identity and product authentication services to governments and multinationals, says: “If you’re a first-generation digital start-up business or technology company, you don’t have to think about digital culture, you just have it. You have an agile development team… and you are open to change.

“Whereas if you’re working in a bigger business or a business with a significant non-digital legacy… you’ve got to think about the DNA of the culture that you want to create… It means thinking about what’s happening in the wider context around everything from hosting, to the cloud and big data analytics.”

Laura Haynes, Chairman of brand consultancy Appetite, explains that digital needs to be part of the core business: “People think about digital as being something outside their regular business issues, but it is time to think differently and recognise that the first way to reap the benefits of a digital culture is to break down silos and integrate digital thinking and processes throughout the business.

“Sure, there will be parts of digital that may need new technical expertise, but there is the opportunity to explore the potential to improve processes and communications, but this means embracing digital.”

It’s about connecting the established practices with the new, and reaching a balance which allows digital to enhance or adapt the traditional offering. Bal Samra, BBC Commercial Director and Managing Director of BBC Television, who is leading major digital projects such as BBC3 Online, the iPlayer and BBC Store, comments: “Our values at the BBC are always going to be the same… but we are in a different world – it feels like everything is speeding up… You need to create a culture in your organisation to evolve from the old to the new.”

Executives on point 

Senior executives in an organisation need to take the lead on digital. Bal says: “The CEO has to set the pace of the vision… So that means constantly talking about the world around us and how it’s changing, and moving that from being scary to being an opportunity.”

Leaders need to be open-minded. Laura says: “The challenges are understandable because if you take a lot of senior leadership, they’re having to relearn a way of thinking that doesn’t come naturally… it’s not just about learning techniques; it’s about learning to think differently about processes, about truly interactive and real-time communications, about the utilisation of information and how to analyse what’s in front of us, as well as new media.”

Julian says you have to “remove fear and de-risk digital” through experimentation and education: “Get them to play at home more. Ask them to use some of the modern apps that, frankly, kids are using.

“You need an interpreter role, it might be your CTO or it might be head of R&D. Someone who can take relatively complex concepts of digital and introduce them to a board… [Crucially] you have to be really clear about where the customer value lies, the cost to achieve it and the steps to take.”

Younger employees are increasingly being turned in order to share their digital expertise, acting as reverse mentors for an older generation. Paul Brennan, Chairman of cloud infrastructure software provider OnApp, comments: “You need to utilise younger people who are going to be the consumers of your products and services in ten years’ time, to understand how they want to communicate with you.”

Allied to this, employees should be allowed to experiment and test ideas. “You fail fast and learn,” says Bal. “What you want is an innovation kind of culture which says if you fail… and if something doesn’t work, you move on. You’ve got to create a culture that allows people to challenge the conventions.”

For this ‘digital culture’ to be meaningful, it has to be joined-up with how the information generated by technology is being used to bring about collaboration, experimentation and to inform decision-making. “New technologies enable us to act in a very different way,” says Emma Cooper, Managing Director of UK Health and Public Sector, and Organisational Change Lead for the UK and Ireland, at Accenture.

“They allow us to tap into workers anytime, anywhere… Digital is changing organisations, silos and hierarchies.”

Helen Murray, Chief Customer Solutions Officer at Webhelp UK, a company that provides outsource customer services, says: “Huge insights can be gained from analysing conversations, utilising voice and text analytics, to truly understand customers’ emotions, frustrations and behaviours, and combining that with more traditional, structured data analytics… You need to ensure all customer engagements consistently reflect and represent the brand.”

In order to fully endorse digital, leaders have to understand the tangible business benefits. Paul comments: “A lack of awareness of the value proposition means you could miss opportunities, so education is important for senior executives to fully embrace digital. You need to understand the benefit to your organisation.”

At the very least, they have to be honest about where gaps in knowledge and expertise may lie. Mike Greene, Chairman of pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare company WinchPharma Group, says: “Boards need a diverse mix of experience, energy and ambition… If they haven’t got someone who’s digitally savvy and digitally confident then their board is missing something, but unfortunately they often recruit in their own image.”

Helen comments: “Digital is so critical to businesses… It’s essential that digital is in its DNA, not a separate operating unit; not an adjunct… It needs to interface seamlessly with the rest of the organisation.”

Large corporates may struggle to embrace a truly digital culture, but senior executives must rise to the challenge. Ultimately, leaders need to ensure they are open-minded and willing to learn, while utilising new technologies and data in order to empower employees to meet changing customer demand.

I hope to see you soon

Matthew

www.twitter.com/criticaleyeuk

Looking Back on 2014

Comm update_31 DecemberWhen reflecting on some of the central themes to be discussed by Criticaleye Members over the past year, be it digital, the changing consumer, an ageing population, innovation or culture change, it’s abundantly clear that successful senior executive teams understand the need to be collaborative, curious and open to new ideas and insights. How else can they be expected to navigate complex and fast-changing global markets?

Steven Cooper, CEO of Personal Banking at Barclays, said: “The environment that leaders need to create, I think, is changing. They need to be much more inclusive, more visible and they need to be engaging with a broader spectrum of colleagues to create partnerships.”

It’s a point echoed by Andy Clarke, CEO of retail concern Asda: “If you turn the clock back only ten years, the pervasive style of communication for leaders was very much tell-and-do. It’s a dying style of leadership today; you have to operate with a level of openness to challenge that you wouldn’t necessarily have seen a decade ago.”

A CEO has to look to build a team that can thrive in a business environment where strategy is far more dynamic and agile. “The most common thing to do in the world of strategy in business these days is to complain about the V.U.C.A. world we live in – so everything is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – and then say that because of this it’s impossible to do strategy,” said Roger Martin, Criticaleye Thought Leader and Academic Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at Rotman School of Management.

“But if an organisation doesn’t understand it has to make choices about where to play and how to win, it might as well not do strategy. That’s why more than eighty per cent of all strategic plans are pretty much useless.”

A numbers game 

The strategic implications of a multigenerational workforce is certainly an area that requires careful thought. Mark Purdy, Managing Director (Economic Research) and Chief Economist at Accenture, commented: “We’ve recognised that there’s a major trend around ageing and increasingly organisations are thinking about this, but maybe what we haven’t recognised is that we have a lot of millennials in the workforce too…

“[T]he successful organisations are going to be defined by their ability to bridge the gap between the ages and capitalise on the inherent strengths of both young and old.”

It’s leading to new ideas on how technology can reshape working practices, from home-working to hot-desking and job-sharing. Vanda Murray, Criticaleye Board Mentor and Senior Independent Director at manufacturing company Fenner, said: “Businesses need to invest in IT to enable flexible working, which may be from home or any remote location, as it is now expected that we are all ‘connected’ wherever we are.

“There are huge benefits to businesses that embrace more flexible working patterns and practices. It helps recruitment and retention – in particular those workers with family commitments – be it younger children or elderly parents. Young mothers often find they cannot balance work and home life without this flexibility for example.”

The way digital continues to change organisations has been another area of debate and discussion for executives. Bal Samra, BBC Commercial Director and Managing Director of BBC Television: “Digital disruption is inevitable so business leaders need to recognise it, collaborate and foster a culture of learning within the organisation so that more is understood with every new project.”

One of the biggest risks for companies is to do nothing with digital. If you’re not constantly testing, learning and evolving, you will be left behind. Simon Johnson, Group Managing Director for UK & International at publisher HarperCollins, said: “Innovative digital leaders are those who are completely obsessed with inventing things and with customer experience… They also need to create the right culture internally, encouraging the people within the business to think more like a start-up.

“This might mean starting-up a skunkworks for innovation, for example… or setting up new business units in direct competition with legacy ones.”

The question of how organisations can excel at innovation remains fiercely debated, especially as new business models emerge. Neil Stephens, Managing Director for the UK and Ireland at food company Nestlé Professional, comments: “The narrative I always put around the need for breakthrough innovation is that the customer is constantly changing and they are always eager to find new ways to enrich their lives…

“[That’s why] we are trying to bring our customers into the innovation loop as early as possible so that, by the time we go to market, we already have customers who are attuned to the opportunities and who have been part of the process from the beginning.”

George Yip, Criticaleye Thought Leader and Professor of Management at China Europe International Business School, observed that Western companies need to learn how to innovate faster and take more risks, whereas Chinese organisations need to learn how to innovate in a more formal way. “Being pragmatic about the kind of innovation companies do is the key to achieving profitability in the digital age,” he said.

If a business has any hope of performing to the highest level, it needs the best people. Creating a culture that attracts and retains those individuals and allows them to flourish is perhaps one of the biggest tests confronting senior executive teams.

Rudi Kindts, Non-executive Director for technical recruiter Matchtech and former Group HR Director for British American Tobacco, said: “We don’t know what the future will look like, so I think increasingly the skills required to be a successful leader will be around agility, curiosity, being able to work in teams and having an acute awareness of the environment around them and themselves.

“What is for certain is that leaders need to build organisations that are able to adapt to the future [and be flexible].”

For CEOs, it’s a case of asking more of the Human Resources Director. Steve Varley, Chairman and Managing Partner for UK&I at EY, explained: “A key benefit of the HR Director is to help leaders understand the link between the inputs and outputs of an organisation.

“Effective ones do two things: they understand the business model – how the business makes money – and, secondly, they work hard to build relationships with the CEO and the board.”

Doug Baillie, Chief HR Officer for consumer goods company Unilever, said: “When I came into this role three years ago, the first thing I did was to get key senior business leaders into a room together and ask them what they expect from HR.

“From this, the choice that came to me was clear: do we, as HRDs, want to be the ones laying the road for the journey ahead or are we content to just fill in the cracks as someone else lays out the path? Actually, I don’t differentiate between a HR Director and a business leader.”

The bottom line is that CEOs need to be great communicators and collaborative if they’re to be good at leading change. As Glen Moreno, Chairman of publishing and education company Pearson, said: “It is extremely rare today for a new leader to come into an organisation with a mandate for business-as-usual. That wasn’t always true. There were times when companies had locked market share and there wasn’t much of a technology challenge, nor was it global.

“It’s all changed now and there are virtually no maintenance jobs anymore because companies are either in trouble when a new CEO comes in, or they clearly need to rethink their position on what they’re already doing.”

I hope to see you soon

Matthew

www.twitter.com/criticaleyeuk

5 Ways to Master Social Media

Comm update_27 August1Facebook has an average of 829 million daily active users. Every minute more than 120 professionals sign up to LinkedIn and 5,700 tweets are sent per second. There’s no doubt social media is a powerful communication tool for individuals and businesses, so building an online presence and engaging should be high on the agenda when it comes to being an effective leader in this digital era.

Richard Branson is a great example of a leader who engages across multiple channels. The Virgin Group founder currently has over 4.37 million Twitter followers, is active on Facebook and Google+, and publishes thought leadership on LinkedIn. While many executives struggle with deciding how to create a personal and corporate profile through social media, Branson effortlessly blends the two.

Of course, such a profile and persona are rare in business. For many executives, social media presents a conundrum. How much of your own personality do you want to reveal and what are the consequences of getting the balance wrong between professional and personal? Criticaleye spoke to a range of Members who are frequent users of social media about how to get it right and why it’s essential for leaders to dive in and explore the benefits.

1) Set Goals 

Before you take the plunge on any social network, it’s important to have an idea of what you’d like to achieve, whether that’s networking, publishing thought leadership or exploring customer attitudes.

Andrew McCallum, Director of Corporate Affairs and Business Support at Dana Petroleum, comments: “Don’t just do it because everyone else is – have a real, strong business rationale for doing it… set clear boundaries and directions of what you’re trying to do and how you’re going to measure success.”

While there is a risk of over-thinking the pros and cons of social media, you do need to consider your own profile and that of the company you represent. “Executives can jump on these bandwagons without asking themselves, ‘What am I really trying to achieve?’” says Paul Brennan, Chairman at cloud storage provider OnApp.

2) Understand the Channels 

If you’re going to engage with social media, it’s useful to understand the context of different channels. Sarah Bentley, Managing Director for Accenture Digital UK and Ireland, says: “Facebook still seems to be in the realm of the personal. I think that there are employers who still check that, but… it’s legitimate for that to be a personal aspect of you.”

LinkedIn, with 313 million users, is viewed as the best channel for business connections. Richard Gillies, Group Sustainability Director at Kingfisher, comments that his LinkedIn “has got lots of people on it so it’s become a Rolodex” of useful business contacts.

Sarah says: “[LinkedIn] is also a good recruitment marketing tool… I can see what personal networks look like, but also if there’s a particular client or person in the marketplace that we want to have communication with.”

Twitter, the microblogging site with 271 million users, is generally regarded as the most dynamic. Peter Horrocks, Director of BBC World Service Group, says: “The main tool I use is Twitter… it’s very versatile. It allows people to have multiple interest groups. Twitter is the primary source of recirculation and the distribution of news so it’s particularly appropriate for me.”

Beyond these sites the use of others like Google+, Pinterest and Instagram seems to depend on industry sector and personal preference. Andrew McCallum says: “There is also some geographical distinction, in China for example Qzone or Sina have got millions of users.”

3) Know Your Corporate Policy 

If you’re a company founder or employed by a start-up you’re likely to have more freedom in the way you communicate on social media, whereas corporate leaders will have stricter guidelines to adhere to. Andrew McCallum says: “I think [knowing] the policy around it, really understanding the boundaries is key… be very specific about what’s out of scope or off limits.”

Domestic and international politics are areas best avoided (unless you’re Richard Branson), as are heated exchanges with customers. Laura Haynes, Chairman of brand consultancy Appetite, says: “You are dealing with your own and your company’s reputation every time you tweet or comment on LinkedIn and Facebook, therefore it’s incredibly important that you understand the impact and implications of your communications.”

Andrew Powell, Chief Operating Officer at careers education provider The Training Room, makes a similar point. “Even though you can retract or delete a tweet, you can get caught out if you let your passion overspill… If you’re really passionate about something, think before you tweet,” he says.

It’s important to remember this especially if you or your company comes under fire. Peter comments: “You have to be prepared to take a certain amount of flack. But don’t ever rise to the bait, don’t get angry. If someone is behaving inappropriately, it’s okay to block them.”

As with any communication, it’s a case of applying common sense. Andrew Powell says: “There’s a bit of guidance around policy and dos and don’ts from the marketing team that you need to be aware of, but you need the ability to express yourself. Provided you don’t bring the company into disrepute – experiment.”

4) Learn and Explore 

One way of ensuring you’re up to speed is to learn from those already versed in the technology. Sarah comments: “I look at what my children do, who range from one to 16… Internally we’ve got a reverse mentoring programme where we’ve got this great analyst who joined us as a graduate… and he’s setting up a whole programme for our execs, me included, to help coach and train us.”

Andrew Powell also found it useful to learn from employees on the frontline referencing an example from his previous role as COO at Colt Technology Services. “Every country I visited, my first three meetings of the day would be 45-minute sessions, back-to-back with people from the floor of the business, talking about technology, social media, what’s going on and just listening and learning,” he says.

According to Peter leaders should be capable of working it out for themselves: “The whole world is going on Twitter. You don’t need to do a complicated course to learn how to use [social media], just sign up, have a look at it and work it out for yourself… If a leader can’t get into something like Twitter and start to work out how it might be a useful tool for them, they haven’t got the curiosity or technological skills which make them a leader in the digital age…

“Dip your toe in the water. You can start using it and consuming it well before you start to post yourself. Get comfortable with the culture of the people you’re following and see what the conventions are, the language they use… the style.”

5) Be Authentic

Navigating the line between personal and corporate may be difficult to master, but once you’ve found your voice it’ll soon become intuitive.

For Sarah sharing a little bit of personal information is good: “I do think that consumers, employees or potential clients would be very suspicious of somebody that was 100 per cent corporate and not having an element of the personal in there. So the odd comment about watching rugby or what you’re having for dinner is fine… there needs to be that element of humanity.”

Andrew Powell agrees: “[Twitter] created a whole different dialogue, where people felt a lot more comfortable in an executive’s presence and therefore the conversation and information was a lot richer for me…

“[Employees] knew what football club I supported; they knew what my kids were up to on a weekend… Suddenly you were talking to a human being rather than a level in an operation.”

Others take a completely different stance, like Paul who draws a clear line between the public profile he maintains professionally and his personal life. “I would never… start talking about my children or that I did a triathlon over the weekend, because I really don’t think it’s pertinent to the opinion piece I might be giving on cloud technology.”

***

It’s understandable for executives to be reticent about using social media. Why run the risk of being trolled, falling foul of regulators or upsetting customers? Besides, what does it say about the workload of a CEO if they’re spending their time tweeting when they should be focused on running the business?

While there is some credence to these objections, they can be used as a smokescreen for fear and lack of curiosity. The reality is that with minimal preparation and a basic appreciation of the rules of engagement, the negatives can quickly be surmounted. Given the emphasis on communication as a core leadership skill, it’s somewhat negligent of executives to not make time for social media and see it as another means of building closer relationships with various stakeholders.

As Peter puts it: “People can be a bit nervous about it but get over that and try it out. You’ll be surprised at how much it improves your effectiveness as a leader.”

I hope to see you soon.

Matthew

www.twitter.com/criticaleyeuk

The Digital Dilemma for Banks

Comm update_11 June2Empowered customers are demanding a seamless experience across multiple channels. For traditional financial services (FS) providers, this is presenting a number of challenges as they look to create an integrated, flexible offering which caters to online services, apps and utilises data effectively. As ever, this is easier said than done given the changes required, but it’s clear that failure to move with the times is not an option.

Sandra Leonhard, MD of Digital Channels, Personal & Business Banking at Barclays UK Retail and Business Bank, says: “[A cohesive] digital strategy in FS is customer-centric as well as commercial; it will be disruptive and transformational. The digital strategy will go far beyond a distribution channel and will incorporate digital to drive product changes, transform back-end processes and technology, reinventing the customer interface and evolving the underlying core operating model of the business.”

It means making deep rooted, structural changes to an organisation. Stephen Ingledew, Managing Director for Customer and Marketing, at savings and investment business Standard Life, agrees: “It’s not something that stands alone… it’s integral to what the business is trying to achieve with customers and its commercial objectives. It’s not just about the front-end or having an exciting, engaging website or mobile way of engaging customers … it needs to be end-to-end, up front as well as operationally.”

Sandra adds: “The key is to offer channel choice but to be in line with changing customer behaviour. This means if more customers are demanding… sophisticated digital services, then banks need to evolve and rebalance their offering to remain competitive in the market.”

A similar point is made by Neil Jones, Consultancy Partner at business solutions company TCS (Tata Consultancy Services): “It’s really about understanding what your customers want in the future, and then shaping your digital strategy to deliver those needs.”

Cause for disruption
There is much talk and speculation about how digital is going to change retail finance, particularly in terms of personal interaction and customer service. Brian Stevenson, Criticaleye Board Mentor and Non-executive Director of the Agricultural Bank of China (UK), says: “The branch is going to die just like high street retail is going to die and is dying because people don’t need it anymore… there isn’t a really fundamentally important reason for branches to continue. There is still a need for people to have face-to-face interaction but it doesn’t have to be in a branch the way that people think of it today.”

By contrast, others argue that there is a compelling reason why the branch will remain a core feature of the customer experience. Steve Pateman, Head of UK Banking at Santander, says:  “I have no doubt that technology will play a massive part in the retail and corporate and commercial bank of the future. People will want to have the ability to pay-on-the-move and access information wherever they are… But this is not going to replace the relationship managers.

“It will not replace the branch. You can have the best information system, but if your delivery system with people isn’t up to scratch, then it will backfire. Too many people don’t understand that.”

While the degrees of personalisation may be open to debate, advances in the use of data and analytics have certainly made engagement more complex. Stephen comments: “Our traditional approach to financial services has been to push products out… What the data allows us to do is actually know customers better, engage them on a much more personal basis and then apply how we help them and make things easier for them, based on their experience.”

Banks are in a privileged position when it comes to data, with access to customers’ transactional patterns and often the broader financial make-up of their lives, but many are not taking advantage of this due to restrictive legacy systems. According to a report by TCS from 2013, almost 80 per cent of the 300 FS senior executives surveyed said they were losing opportunities to improve the customer journey in real time due to failings in their existing systems and processes.

Brian comments: “They are relying on core systems that don’t actually analyse the data or produce the data in any way, shape or form that’s user-friendly… financial service providers should ultimately know their customers’ needs better. That should avoid things like mis-selling.”

For traditional financial institutions, utilising information across channels can be incredibly challenging. Neil comments: “You can’t easily change your legacy system… what you’ve got to try and do is build something that sits on top. A good example is Barclays’ Pingit, which enables you to use your phone to send money to someone else’s phone.”

As well as legacy issues, the regulatory environment can be seen as another barrier to digital innovation. Neil adds: “It’s a millstone around the neck of every single financial service operator… the barrier is often: A, the quantity of regulation, and B, how many organisations and regulators interpret it. So ensure you comply, but use compliance to change the way you operate and try to innovate.”

Expect a surge in ‘pure-play’ digital financial service providers over the coming years. While they may not have the scale of established institutions, they may bring brand new ways of providing services and engaging with customers which will cause ripples in a sector that has been set in its ways for far too long. “If you are a new player… you don’t have [the] history and you don’t have to migrate old products to new platforms, or old technology to new technology,” says Brian.

There are some real strategic and operational dilemmas for financial service providers if they are to deal with the transition to digital. What is beyond doubt is that while risk, trust and security need to be managed impeccably, change is inevitable because it is all being driven by the customer.

I hope to see you soon.

Matthew

www.twitter.com/criticaleyeuk 

Leadership in a Digital World

Comm update_21MayAs technology continues to transform business models, a new breed of corporate leader is emerging who is digitally-savvy and assiduously curious. Rather than fearing change and obsessively trying to retain control, the most accomplished CEOs accept that for an organisation to compete globally and attract and retain the best talent, they must be highly collaborative, operationally focused and ruthlessly strategic.

These are just some of the outtakes from our Divisional CEO Retreat, held in association with Accenture. Over the course of 24-hours, our Members discussed the leadership skills and experience now required if global organisations are to thrive in the digital age.

“We’ve reached a tipping point with digital, but it’s not as frightening a proposition as we might think,” said Oliver Benzecry, Managing Director for the UK & Ireland at Accenture. “Large organisations are now institutionalising ‘digital’ into their business model and, increasingly, they are becoming the disrupter not the disrupted.”

Bal Samra, Commercial Director at the BBC, who is responsible for a budget in excess of £1 billion and over 1,000 staff, commented: “Digital disruption is inevitable so business leaders need to recognise it, collaborate and foster a culture of learning within the organisation so that more is understood with every new project.”

Speed is absolutely essential. Ruchir Rodrigues, UK Managing Director for Digital Banking (retail and business banking) at Barclays, said: “The pace of change in digital is dramatically accelerating, forcing companies to provide better products, services and customer experience… Remember, if you are not there for your customers they now have the choice to go elsewhere.”

Simon Johnson, Group Managing Director for UK & International at publisher HarperCollins, said: “Innovative digital leaders are those who are completely obsessed with inventing things and with customer experience… They also need to create the right culture internally, encouraging the people within the business to think more like a start-up.

“This might mean starting-up a skunkworks for innovation, for example… or setting up new business units in direct competition with legacy ones.”

Embracing change

According to Mark Spelman, Global Head of Strategy at Accenture, “New business models are coming to the fore that will require a new style of collaborative leadership. The first quality required of today’s leaders is therefore to explain context and synthesise complexity.”

Bal said: “Creating a disruptive business proposition isn’t easy because it means breaking all the rules and often challenging existing business models… In large organisations, big and disruptive digital projects will benefit from the support of the CEO but you’ll also need to build a coalition from within.

“That means creating champions below the board level and across boundaries within the business… because they’ll be the people interested in the product rather than who’s in charge.”

Likewise, the ‘digital natives’ in an organisation have to be fully cognisant of what the business wants to achieve in the short, medium and long term. Ruth Cairnie, Non-executive Director at both food manufacturer ABF and engineering concern Keller Group, commented: “The obligation is on the digital experts to remove the mystique and complexity for the board by communicating clearly and simply what really matters for the business.”

Donald Brydon, Chairman of software provider Sage, said: “In a large company like ours where there are 50,000 small decisions being made daily, the CEO needs to both understand these, yet also hold to a very clear and simple strategy based on rigorous analysis.”

It was widely agreed that Divisional CEOs must create an infrastructure which supports and enables connections for customers, employees, partners and communities. Ruchir said: “The biggest risk for companies is to do nothing with digital. If you’re not constantly testing, learning and evolving, you will be left behind.”

In one sense, the challenges facing Divisional CEOs in today’s digital world do require new skills and an entrepreneurial mentality. But it is also just a new manifestation of change – albeit highly disruptive – which good leaders will absorb, understand and navigate like any other.

“Rather than being in fear of digital disruption, you should be full of optimism and ready to embrace it,” said Donald.

I hope to see you soon.

Matthew

www.twitter.com/criticaleyeuk