Plautus, an ancient Roman playwright, once said, “Courage in danger is half the battle.” I believe this saying holds significant meaning for business leaders who are forced to innovate and evolve or risk becoming extinct in today’s increasingly competitive landscape.
In addition to the constant pressure of remaining innovative, business leaders are also forced to execute a significant number of critical decisions every day. Some of the most successful leaders have narrowed this responsibility to focus only on the utmost important choices, with Jeff Bezos admitting to only making three decisions per day, and Warren Buffett making three per year.
Speaking from firsthand experience, I believe for CEOs there is one decision to make and commit to: the choice to digitally transform. In today’s business climate, every company is a technology company, and every CEO must champion digital transformation across their business. Change is often uncomfortable and unwelcome, but here’s why you should say yes to digital transformation.
The Battle For Business Existence
Let’s face it: Many organizations are in a battle for existence. Today, “born in the cloud” vendors or those free of legacy systems and infrastructure are causing massive disruption and creating a seamless, instantaneous customer experience that rivals cannot imitate.
History often repeats itself, and in looking at recent years, you’ll notice a few former household names that have lost the battle for business existence due to lack of technological innovation. The most-talked-about example is Blockbuster, the home movie rental store. Internally, it was a profitable, well-oiled machine, lacking any major competitors and claiming a niche space. Yet suddenly, internet streaming and subscription services like Netflix emerged, and end users noticed the efficiency, convenience and innovation, which resulted in Blockbuster filing for bankruptcy in 2010 and ultimately closing its doors in 2013.
This cautionary tale is a reminder for today’s CEO to be mindful of the opportunity and need to embrace technology across their organization to avoid becoming the next Blockbuster. Technology is necessary for any company, regardless of industry, and in order for this technology to perform, disrupt and orientate toward a customer-first approach, digital transformation is no longer an option — it is a necessity.
The Drive To Digitally Transform
Failure to transform digitally is cited as one of the main reasons over half of the Fortune 500 companies have disappeared since 2000, Blockbuster included. The drive to digitally transform is a battlefield event for many companies and their leaders. Optically, prioritizing digital transformation when “the business is doing fine” seems like the wrong move — when in reality, this is a flawed assumption.
Think about this: While it seems like an overnight change, the business “battlefield” rapidly evolves. Suddenly, your troops and armaments are increasingly irrelevant. Now, digital transformation becomes a battlefield priority, and the fight for survival begins. If your organization reaches this point without a plan in motion, the battle is already lost. It is mission-critical to avoid being reactive. Remain proactive in the battle for business success, innovation and quite often, survival.
Digital transformation brings about benefits beyond remaining competitive and innovative (which should be reason enough to take the plunge). It also allows organizations to embrace streamlined business processes, cut costs, improve productivity and introduce new business models that redefine industries or build new ones. It’s a change that business leaders should welcome with open arms, regardless of adoption challenges.
How To Embrace Change
Beyond stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, organizations struggle to embrace digital transformation for a number of reasons. While it’s important to understand the challenges that accompany this evolution, business leaders should also focus on the opportunities that digital transformation brings.
First, CEOs must acknowledge that digital transformation is not a commercial insurance policy — transformation is essential for survival. If the board and executive team treat this investment as discretionary, the outcome at best is late and over budget.
Second, it’s vital to acknowledge that this process doesn’t happen overnight and is extremely complex, requiring IT and business teams to fully embrace the disruption. This journey will lead organizations to shift to microservices-based architectures running on-premise and in the cloud, delivered through web and mobile interfaces simultaneously. A good proof point is Amazon, which moved to a fully distributed, decentralized services platform delivering multiple unique applications.
And finally, many organizations will struggle due to inefficient and ineffective communications. Employees who are unaware of the changes or challenges may cause mistakes, delays and disappointments. To overcome resistance and ensure a successful digital transformation experience, business leaders need to embrace their transformational initiatives and support them with frequent and timely communications. The foundation of each digital transformation initiative lies in the mission-critical applications deployed across on-premise, cloud and hybrid cloud infrastructure. Leaders driving transformation initiatives need to ensure that their management and reporting is supported by unparalleled insight and visibility to optimize performance, thwart potential issues and provide a consistent customer experience.
Don’t let obstacles get in the way of your business evolution. Again, let’s remember, “Courage in danger is half the battle.” I believe the other half is simply saying yes to change. What’s stopping you?
Source: Forbes, Paul Hooper CEO of Gigamon
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