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Execs must advocate tech initiatives effectively

Senior management has a big role to play in making a success of digital and data transformation programmes

Research from the Leading Edge Forum (LEF) and DXC Technology has reported that two-thirds (66%) of senior business executives say their mission-critical systems are so complex that they are wary of changing them.

The survey, published in the Connecting digital islands report, found that the majority of respondents (70%) feel more effective leadership is needed across the organisation to support business and data transformation initiatives.

The LEF recommended that both C-level leaders and mid-level managers become more tech-savvy and develop the skills required to lead people effectively. The LEF said such leaders will become advocates for technologies that can make the enterprise more agile, productive and innovative, and they will secure buy-in across the organisation.

According to the LEF, new technologies are often introduced to meet the needs of a specific business unit, rather than as part of an overarching strategy. This results in localised units, operating well but independently of each other.

The study, based on an online survey of 1,186 business and tech leaders, reported that 62% said a lack of a common set of tools and platforms across the organisation resulting in a collection of “digital islands” – units working with the right technologies but independently of each other.

Richard Davies, vice-president, strategic advisory at DXC Technology and managing director of the LEF, said: “Getting the right combination of people, culture and technology is essential for making effective, long-term change. Employees will also need to embrace technology-infused work cultures more strongly, and leaders must have the same priority. 

“To close the gap, companies have a lot of work to do – work that should have happened some time ago. This ranges from building effective leadership and internetworked teams, to modernising IT and moving up the stack for data-driven insights, to establishing an ecosystem of partners and suppliers and instilling a culture of collaboration, learning and agility.”

When asked about the top technologies they plan to focus on in their business, the executives identified moving to cloud computing and software as a service as a top priority, which shows organisations are keen to increase operational efficiency and productivity. The study also found that organisations flagged analytics and machine intelligence as areas for investment.

Read more about digital transformation

  • At the HMG Strategy 2020 Summit, the CIOs of e.l.f. Cosmetics, NetApp and El Camino Hospital discussed their evolving role in this era of business and digital transformation.
  • As companies increasingly turn to robotic process automation to accelerate digital transformation, Computer Weekly takes a look at how the market is evolving.

“Underscoring it all is a commitment to improving cyber security and IP protection, one of the top three internal priorities for a majority of companies,” said the study.

Although enterprises have been focused on data- and technology-driven transformation for some time, survey respondents said they must get the “people and culture” aspects right for effective, long-term change in the 2020s. Significantly, 65% of the business leaders surveyed cited employee reluctance to change work habits as a barrier to tech-enabled organisational change, while only 14% ranked improving employee engagement and empowerment as their top internal priority. 

The survey also found that over half of respondents (52%) thought staff are not using analytics sufficiently to make decisions based on data insights, despite 79% claiming they are effectively using technology to grow, compete, and drive market leadership. Given that 77% said the collection and use of data is built into how they compete and operate, many of the executives surveyed felt insights are being missed, according to the LEF. 

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