It is my belief that a company’s Digital IQ – the way it integrates and leverages digital technology to service the business needs – will be a key driver and competitive advantage over the next decade. A 2012 Price Waterhouse Cooper report suggests that “… excellence in IT has not been commoditized and is still differentiating as a competitive advantage.” For a CEO, much less all members of top management, being part geek should no longer be optional.
If your company is to evolve today, top management needs to “get” digital
As companies transition to digital platforms and marketing, there are three very important reasons why top management must understand better the digital world and become more comfortable with new technology and terminology.
- Business – As the opportunities in digital increase, so, too, has competition become fiercer. Creating a successful digital strategy and allocating the appropriate resources requires full understanding of the changing environment.
- Management – Digital is becoming a burgeoning component of internal management, whether it be for knowledge and digital asset management, bandwidth, mobile platforms, CRM and customer service, firewalls & security, communications, intranet or video conferencing. Moreover, with the new generation coming into the workforce, the attractiveness and effectiveness of your organization are at play.
- Talent – Notwithstanding the demographic pressure, there is a very real battle for good digital talent. How to find and evaluate the best talent requires new skill sets.
I have written previously about the opportunity to raise your company’s “geek quotient.” On the one hand, this involves the company culture whereby the “geek” is accepted. For certain companies, this borderlines on the concept of diversity management. On the other hand, improving the geek quotient means that everyone should be part geek. I firmly believe, it would be better that 100% of the personnel were 5% geek than to rely on hiring 5 people that are 100% geeks.
Raising your Digital IQ
Sending the entire ExCom to a week of off-site digital training is not the answer, although having a strong digital education program is, at a minimum, necessary. Being digital is different from doing digital. It must be a part of the everyday business. There are three vital components to the Digital IQ of the entire upper management team.
- Online reputation and network – lead by example and measure against objectives. Top management of bigger companies — especially if they are publicly traded — are generally all present online. The question is whether that online presence represents the optimal image. Top management should all be able to audit their own presence and have a good idea of the impression they would like to leave. The same is true of their [visible] online network.
- Digital tools – know what is out there and appreciate why & how to use them. Taking Twitter and Facebook alone, there are around 3/4 million different related tools and applications, with more being born every day. Knowing how to keep up with the changes, and to identify the latest and best of these could be a full time job. A strong network and a good monitoring process are key.
- Digital strategy – Last, and not least, management must decide on the appropriate digital strategy, to be integrated as a part of an overall strategy. Whether this involves eCommerce, mobile or social media marketing, a successful digital strategy must be deeply embedded not just in the marketing mix, but in the very fabric of the company. In order to drive the business forward using digital means requires selecting the best partners, allocating the right resources and understanding fully how to measure the return on investment of your digital strategy.
- HR = the Linkedin revolution; eLearning for permanent education; personal versus professional time; social media policies
- Finance = new digital marketing line in the P&L; investments in IT equipment (mobile, tablet, laptops…)
- Sales = sales 2.0 (e.g. use of a connected iPad as a sales tool) and the learning organization
- I.T. = data security issues, bandwidth needs, video conferencing
- Production = safety and protection learning (see this wonderful example from Japan: Wearable Behavior Navigation System)
- Customer Service = the inclusion of social media in the mix is increasingly essential
- Marketing = customer relationship management requires mastering multi-channel communication; digital asset (image and video) management
- The CEO = learning to read/listen to what is being said by clients on the web and to consider it as, if not more, vital than “telegraphed” customer round tables; what about a CEO blog?