Is Your C-Suite Equipped to Lead a Digital Transformation?

Viewed in Harvard Business Review

It is undeniably true that the world’s major economies have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has cost many millions of jobs globally and slowed growth.

But that fact is not universally true. Some industries have actually blossomed from it, and technology is certainly one of those.

Two years digital transformation in two months

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, for instance, observed last year that the company had “seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”

Similarly, the U.S. cloud communications company Twilio has reported that the pandemic accelerated digital transformation strategies “by an average of six years.”

Averted digital competence required for executives

The speed of this adoption has predictably increased the demand for competent executives associated with digital transformation processes.

The authors of this Harvard Business Review article assessed 100 search specifications for C-suite positions in Fortune 1000 companies that led to some intriguing conclusions about the skills companies engaged in digital transformation growth are seeking.

Non-negotiable digital skills for CIO, CMO and CTO

One non-negotiable understandably was technology and digital skills; 100 percent of companies seeking chief information officers, chief marketing officers, and chief technology officers required these skills for these senior positions.

Required digital skills in HR or Accounting

But these skills were not nearly as required for other executive-level positions, such as human resource and accounting executives, where these skills were less than a third of companies cited technical and digital skills as necessary.

No more optional for the CEO, CFO and board members

Among a company’s top executives, chief executive officers, chief financial officers, and board members, the demand for these skills was somewhere in between 40 and 60 percent.

Technological pivot has happened

All of this is important because, these authors contend, “the pandemic has exposed the executives who were not up to the challenge of a rapid technological pivot.”

As global business ultimately returns to normalcy, companies will find that technology and digital skills are essential among all of their executive teams.

For many, the pandemic has revealed they confront some deficiencies in these skills among some executives not traditionally directly associated with them. This may have worked in the pre-pandemic global economy; it will not likely prove adequate in the post-pandemic one.

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