Analytical insights and cultural change are essential areas for future digital leaders to focus on

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

The fast pace of development means that speed is critical, and companies that have previously been digital leaders risk falling behind if they do not keep up their momentum. In this year’s study, some of the digital leaders in previous years have lost round 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 perhaps more slowly than the competition.

Overall, Swedish companies have again increased their digital maturity compared to previous years, and are now really close to a good grade. The result is encouraging but should still be seen as a call to action. Changes need to happen now and quickly.

It may seem surprising that Swedish companies only receive a sufficient score in our study. Investments 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 and data, which are 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).

Organizations that are capable of leveraging analytics and driving cultural change to manage the overwhelming complexity of data and digital transformation will be the digital leaders of the future.

Achieving analytical excellence is not easy. This is because it involves changes in every aspect of an organization – from customer touchpoints through employee mindsets to technological capabilities – including business and IT strategy, organizational structure, data and processes.

Introducing data-driven ways of working requires much more than tools and technologies. In fact, the greatest challenge is often to adapt the business processes and goals. This is why analytics initiatives, from dashboards to machine learning, should always be designed with concrete business goals in mind and a clear understanding of how business processes should be adapted to leverage the new insights.

Digital transformation also requires strong leadership to drive this change. Organizations should not simply ignore the absence of genuine agile 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 meet these challenges successfully, leaders require new skills and capabilities that they have not needed in the same way in the past.

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

  • They set a vision, goals and know their processes.
  • They know their customers, and the customer experience is optimized throughout the customer journey.
  • They have priorities, a focus and momentum.
  • Innovation is evident throughout the organization, not just in products.
  • They generate valuable insights based on data analytics.
  • They have a digital culture that includes digital talent and agile leadership.

We believe that with the right customercentric mindset, vision, agile leadership and use of data analytics, Swedish companies will have a bright future and a chance to become global digital leaders. However, lukewarm attempts at digitalization will not help them make the necessary leap. A true commitment to new customer demands, new goals and actions based on data-driven decisions by an agile leadership team and a digital culture are essential parts.

  • Digital Leaders in Sweden 2020
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