Digital transformation success depends on CEOs becoming skilled

Posted Mar 1, 2018 by Tim Sandle
The success of a digital transformation initiative in a firm is partly dependent upon the digital skills and understanding of CEOs, according to PwC's assessment of the state of the business world.
One of the meeting rooms once used by the executive of London Transport. This one had its own execut...
One of the meeting rooms once used by the executive of London Transport. This one had its own executive only bathroom - including an actual bath.
The need for digital skills and understanding extends to the senior management team, with many CEOs admitting that they have not examined the abilities of their own executive teams.
Without the understanding of the full transformative potential of digital technology, and the ability to look at each technology as part of a holistic hole, driving the necessary changes will not be easy. These points are set out in PwC's 21st century CEO survey ("The Anxious Optimist in the Corner Office").
For the survey, PwC analyzed the views of 1,293 CEOs from around the world. A key fact gleaned from the survey is that 70 percent of CEOs stated that they are concerned about the digital skills of their senior leadership team.
To add to this, many CEOs are apparently not doing anything to improve their own skills. For instance, only 23 percent of those surveyed reported that they are interacting with artificial intelligence-powered tools. Some CEOs are working on out-dated models of artificial intelligence, according to the survey report, not realizing how much better the technology has become. For example, the underlying compute capability of much artificial intelligence is now monumentally faster, which means systems can crunch through a deluge of data almost instantaneously.
This carries a cultural impact, according to PwC's Tom Puthiyamadam, writing for the website Strategy Business: "For most traditional organizations, change has to start at the top. Otherwise, you will find that your senior leaders don’t have the skills needed to be exemplars of the new way of working required in a digital company."
This means working on organizational culture is also important, a theme explored in the related Digital Journal article "Businesses going digital need to develop new employee mindsets."