Leadership

Why companies need leaders who lead digitally

With an alarming trend that sees a disconnect between the C-suite and middle managers with 59% of CEOs pushing digitally decision-making down the organisation* there is a growing need for leaders who can lead digitally.  Increasing the capacity to tap into smarter decision making by optimising operations of both emerging technologies and legacy systems can enhance organisational and career outcomes.

In 2019, the U.S. federal government is expecting to spend up to 80% (about US$72 billion) of their IT budget on maintaining existing IT investments (US Government Accountability Office 2019). This includes 65 systems that have been identified as being a high priority for modernisation. These numbers continue to surprise Professor Kevin Desouza who believes the process of modernization does not need to be complicated.

“Legacy systems often represent years and sometimes decades of organizational investment that includes software, hardware, and human capital, and they accumulate business knowledge, rules, and policies.”

“Through active, transparent communication, organisations are able to knit together diverse stakeholders and manage their expectations,” he concluded.

Desouza believes taking a digital first leadership can be intimidating, as you will not always be able to have an immediate return on your effort, however enabling acceptance of a broader context will help effective strategies take hold.

In a bid to align both top leadership and employees’ expectations, today’s c-suite are encouraged to recognise the benefits of bringing together the needs of all business lines to create a IT modernization strategy.

Adopting an open innovation approach that encourages and empowers ‘change agents’ within the organisation to creatively address issues in a cloud environment overcomes the longstanding challenges associated with the legacy endeavours, IT systems, and roles.

Digital first leaders are encouraged to effectively engage and communicate openly with internal and external stakeholders during the IT modernization process to gain support for new infrastructure and roles.

It’s not all about managing internal teams though. At times of rapid change where fast decisions need to be made, leaders who are digitally savvy will be able to clearly and authentically articulate the significance of transformation strategies and the desired result to key stakeholders.

So, what is the hope and what is the fear? The hope is leaders engage with this problem and have the passion to drive an organisation digitally – the fear is they don’t.

Listen to Professor Kevin Desouza, Professor Mal Thatcher and myself, Catherine Batch, in person with other C-suite and senior managers and sign up for Smarter Decision Making in Digital Maturing Environments.

Sources:
2019 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Agencies Need to Develop Modernization Plans for Critical Legacy Systems https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/699616.pdf

*Source: Coming of Age Digitally https://sloanreview.mit.edu/projects/coming-of-age-digitally

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Catherine is a Corporate Educator for QUT, teaching subjects in MBA and public sector management. She has a strong expertise in communication with a focus on its application for business technology. Her PhD research is on the role trust plays in artificial intelligence for ASX listed companies. Her aim is help ASX companies understand the requisite trust factors online when considering the application of artificial intelligence.

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