September 10, 2018

7 characteristics of a successful NZ digital organisation


Digital transformation is everywhere. In New Zealand, a recent International Data Corporation study commissioned by Microsoft predicts approximately 55 per cent of GDP will be derived from digital products or services by 2021.

But it’s one thing saying you’re committed to going digital – it’s another actually putting the practical steps in place to become a genuinely successful digital business. Make sure you’re exhibiting the following characteristics to ensure you remain on the right track:

1) You’re setting high targets

Digital transformation is for the bold. You should be setting yourself high targets when implementing changes to ensure you really are getting the value-add that transformation is supposed to produce. Take Apple. It was once a struggling computer manufacturer. However, the company aimed high, diversified into new digital spaces and turned itself into one of the world’s largest technology businesses, dominating music streaming for many years. Only by being aspirational can you really take full advantage of digital transformation.

2) You challenge everything

The best digital leaders will constantly be challenging the status quo to ensure they’re getting as much value as possible out of their organisations. You should constantly be reviewing how everything is done with the sole question of “how can I make this better?” Adding value, increasing efficiency, reducing costs… there are many ways this can manifest itself, but you will only be able to pick up on these if you think critically.

3) You focus on culture

It’s easy to see digital transformation in the context of business processes and systems. But do this at the peril of leaving your people behind. Successful digital organisations will focus on culture as well, ensuring that buy-in occurrs across the board. They’ll promote regular training and show employees the benefits of going digital.

The importance of culture is exhibited by a study of digital transformation in US companies conducted by Hemerling et al. (2018). They found that the proportion of companies reporting a breakthrough or strong financial performance was five times greater for those focusing on culture than those neglecting it.

4) There’s buy-in from the top

The golden rule of implementing cultural change successfully? Take a top-down approach. This is no different for digital transformation. Board members and executives should be leading by example – they should be the ones researching and finding new avenues for digital transformation, and they should be expressing these down the chain. This may take some upskilling or training, and it also may require the hiring of a digital-savvy board member to ensure organisations have the right level of expertise in place.

To make your digital transformation a success, it's essential you have the involvement of the board.

The board needs to be involved in digital transformation to make it a success.

5) You allow experimentation

The digital age is about trying new things, and boards needs to make it clear to employees that experimentation is okay, even if sometimes thing don’t quite go to plan. “Fail fast” is the key phrase here – experiment, but as soon as it becomes clear it’s not working, stop!

6) You’re data-driven

The best digital organisations are constantly measuring their success and altering where necessary. That’s why data is such a buzzword of the 21st century. Going digital gives us access to all sorts of information, and it’s up to businesses to leverage this in order to add value and improve operations.

7) You make quick decisions

Digital transformation is fast-paced, and to ride it you need to be fast-paced too. This is especially the case with decision-making. You need to be able to capitalise on trends as they happen – if Netflix had waited just a little longer to move into streaming and away from DVDs, it may not have become the success that it is today.

Sometimes digital transformation requires a change at the top. If you’re looking for your next C-suite or executive hire, consider using the recruitment specialists at JacksonStone & Partners. Contact us today for more information.