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Digital leaders are customer-centric, know how to embrace change, prioritize, focus and build a culture ready for the future.

Digital transformation is exciting but also challenging to leaders in every sector. Organizations that thrive and that are digitally mature are typically those that embrace change and that are customer-centric. They adapt their products, services and internal operations to stay ahead of the competition. However, it can be difficult to determine what to prioritize and how to focus your efforts and resources to maximize returns.

First of all, it is important to understand where the organization’s existing strengths lie from a digital perspective and which capabilities it has to further develop in order to truly modernize and transform its organization for the future.

The launch of our fourth Digital Leaders Study in Sweden comes at a critical time for businesses, where many do not feel they have the right priorities, momentum and, maybe even more importantly, the leadership capabilities needed to make their digital transformation journey a success.

Speed is critical, due to the fast pace of development, and companies that have previously been digital leaders run the risk of falling behind if they do not keep up their momentum. In this year’s study, we see that some of the digital leaders in previous years have lost ground and fallen behind their peers. This is not because they have done something wrong; it is just because they have not been doing things fast enough or have perhaps been doing things slower than the competition.

Overall, Swedish companies have increased their digital maturity compared to last year, however they still only get a sufficient grade. The result is encouraging but should still be seen as a call to action. Changes need to happen now and quickly.

We find it surprising that Swedish companies only receive a sufficient score in our Digital Leaders Study. A lot of money and resources have been spent on improvements, but they have not necessarily led to successful transformations so far. Some answers can be found in legacy technology, which is causing problems. It is difficult for organizations to adapt to the fast pace of technology innovation (such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and automation). However, there are ways to help businesses capture the possibilities of emerging technology by creating tailored solutions for every type of business and sector.

We do not doubt there is a willingness and understanding of the need to change and to change quickly. The issue is more around how to prioritize and to understand the strengths and the areas to develop. It is important to have a focus: no company we have studied is transforming in all six dimensions at once. The insights and ability to understand strengths and weaknesses that you find in this report can lay the foundation for future planning and success.

Digital transformation requires strong leadership to drive the change. Organizations should not simply ignore the absence of genuine digital leadership, however; they must recognize that finding and developing the right talent is truly difficult. In a continually changing competitive environment, leaders constantly face new challenges and must adapt both the organization and their leadership style to this new digital environment. To manage these challenges successfully, leaders require new skills and capabilities that they have not needed in the past.

Our experience from working with hundreds of organizations during their digital transformation indicates that digital leaders have the following in common:

  • They set a vision and goals, and they align their strategy and governance.
  • They know their customer and there is customer experience throughout the customer journey.
  • They have priorities, a focus and momentum.
  • Innovation is evident throughout the organization, not just in products.
  • There are no silos, the business side and the technology side collaborate in creating business results.
  • They have a culture that includes digital talent and leadership.

We believe that with the right customer-centric mindset, vision, focus and leadership, Swedish companies have a bright future and a chance to become global digital leaders.

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