Digital Leadership and Know-how

Management teams and boards of directors in Finnish companies need more digital know-how

Most of the companies (76%) today do not have a dedicated leader for their digital agenda, strategy and change. Inspired by our Experience and Successes, we encourage corporate management teams and board of directors to work boldly in strengthening the digital leadership, without hesitation.

The Rise of Digital Leadership study conducted by IIC Partners revealed that in only one of four companies – and even fewer in Finland – a digital agenda for both services and internal processes has been taken to the board of directors and the management team in such a way that there is a dedicated and professional person in charge of digitalization, e.g. CDO or digital director.

In some companies, the Chief Information Officer or Chief Technology Officer may mean almost the same as the Digital Director. This means that in the majority of businesses the digitalization development is still shared responsibility, both within the management team and the board of directors, alongside their own responsibilities. In other words, in operational management the business leader ponders digital solutions for his / her own unit – as well as one can. In organizations with several business lines this may lead to very different and even undesirable solutions in different units.

From the executive search and recruitment point of view, it is particularly important that the discussion about the company’s current status and the future strategy is fully transparent. Only then can the right solution / leader be found to meet the challenges of the future – both on the board and the management team level. The very same is visible also in the management team or the board competence assessments. In this case, having the role of digitalization on a high level, the assessment is focusing on clarifying the level of expertise within the leadership team in the areas that enable strategic goals to be attained.

Even if the company’s board or operational leadership would be lacking digital competence, it does not make the current know-how useless. The new digital leader needs to supplement and increase the existing knowledge. Both our experience at JFP and IIC Partners’ research show that a successful CDO can be either sales/marketing-oriented – or having a strong technical background.

During the autumn 2017, we continued to study the effects of digital transformation in the Life Sciences sector through an interview survey. It became clear that the digitalization is very rapid in this sector. Where digital solutions have earlier been largely software management and patient information management systems, companies are now offering digital services to their customers. To be successful in this transformation the high amount of new digital experts are also needed.

Corporate culture is also playing a key role. In the optimal situation it can be speeding up the implementation of major changes brought by digitalization. We have had the privilege to be near seeing how even great changes take place in the genuinely development-oriented, dialogical and open organization, without much friction and doubt about the future. In the digital transformation, success is much more of an organization’s digital expertise than the technical solutions used. The future success is up to the board and the management team: their courage to understand and react to digital opportunities.

The Rise of Digital Leadership survey was carried out in 2016 and interviewed over 500 senior executives from various companies around the world. In Q4/2017, the findings from Impact of Digital Transformation on the Patient Life Cycle survey were released.


Article published in Fakta, #1 Magazine specialized in Leadership in Finland

Issue 01/2018, 19.1.2018