Successful digital transformation

Business leaders believe digital is the most critical element of executing a successful digital transformation.

This is strategically wrong.

Here is why.

Turning a threatened company into a thriving digital economy company is not about projects such as launching a website, building an app, using digital channels, or amassing (and, hopefully, analyzing) data.

Digital transformation must focus, instead, on effecting a fundamental change in how the company operates to achieve its business goals.

Woman About to Drink from Plastic Cup

Learning from Microsoft

In identifying the key factor to Microsoft’s successful transitioning to the digital economy, CEO Satya Nadella pointed to this:

“It’s our ability to work together that makes our dreams believable and, ultimately, achievable.”

Practically, a company must make all the changes necessary to enable constant change as the new modus operandi.

It’s all about superskills

This includes changing who is empowered to make decisions and the conditions sufficient for taking actions, how the company experiments and innovates, how it builds new products and services, how it brings such products and services to market, how it interacts with—and learns from—customers, and how it acts on market signals.

Making these changes requires rewiring existing mindsets, replacing long-standing habits, and reshaping current practices.

In other words, the most critical element for readying your business for doing business in the digital economy is your company’s skills base.

You must ensure you have the right skills stacks in place to: (a) execute on the transformation itself, and (b) operate effectively in the post-transformation M.O. of constant change.

Leadership takeaways

CEOs and Boards must focus on adopting a clear skills strategy:

  1. Map the company’s skill base and identify strategic gaps

  2. Allocate skill resources effectively to execute on the transformation itself

  3. Secure a future skills pipeline that supplies the talent the company needs for its post-transformation operational reality

Getting skills right is the most critical work that makes all other work possible and, ultimately, achievable.

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