Overcoming the boardroom barriers to digital transformation

The digital literacy of your board is holding your organisation back. It’s that simple.

It’s no secret that customer behaviours have rapidly changed since the start of the pandemic, and it’s equally clear that organisations that thrived were those that were able to adapt their customer experiences in a digital-first world.

While boards largely recognise the need for digital transformation to remain competitive in an uncertain and evolving market, there are clear hurdles that separate the best from the rest. As with most of the world, many directors in Asia Pacific aren’t digital natives. Rather, they are digital immigrants who have embraced technology within the context of their analogue expertise in contrast to the younger generations who have known nothing else.

While they grasp the importance of a digital-first approach to business, they often lack the inherent technical understanding to truly champion the necessary change.

A ‘digitally illiterate’ board hampers competitiveness and limits innovation. The responsibility thus falls to digitally savvy executives, like the CMO and CIO, to educate and challenge their boards to drive innovation.

The other challenge for organisations comes from scrambling to transform without the necessary checks and balances in place to achieve success.

A recent study from McKinsey found that while 80 percent of organisations are transforming at least one end-to-end customer journey, most of these are being done without a plan or structure around understanding and managing the risks associated with them.

As customer data becomes even more intrinsically linked to business and marketing strategy, it’s perhaps more important than ever before for brands to have a strategy – with privacy at the core – for capturing and using customer data to deliver dynamic and engaging experiences at every stage of the customer journey.

Right now is a perfect storm for data governance and data stewardship. Consumer focus on data collection and use is growing, and government regulations have tightened in response. And while Google has announced delays in their phase out of the third-party cookie, marketers are rethinking their data approaches to stay ahead of the game.

All of this has been compounded by the rapid adoption of digital channels by consumers in response to the pandemic, particularly the many late-adopting digital migrants who hadn’t previously embraced things like online shopping, telehealth, etc.

The challenges around ethical data governance and stewardship present a real opportunity for brands to invigorate their customer experiences and leverage their wealth of pre-existing first-party data. It’s all well and good to say we need to inform, educate and challenge our boards, but how do we do that?

What your chairman needs to know about your digital transformation:

· Risk and reward

· Data strategy and governance

As the old adage goes, the best time to start your digital transformation was two years ago — the next best time is now.