A business’s growth has a large dependence on digitalisation. Many companies went through a digital transformation during the pandemic and continue to do so as technology evolves.
Corporate directors must also adapt to this digital reality by taking a more active role in supporting senior executives as they take steps to enhance their organisation’s digital transformation and become leaders of the growth strategies.
Directors must understand and relate well to the business. However, they must also advance an inclusive innovation culture and facilitate the right kind of conversations across disparate departments. Conversations where ideas move freely, skills are as necessary as functions, and no one feels “soloed” or stuck in their assigned role.
Challenges for the corporate board in this context
Implementing any new ideas or changes can be challenging for anyone in an organisation. Change can be challenging for corporate directors and board members who have seen the company grow over the years. Understanding and adapting to the new digital environment may take time to adapt.
One of the most common challenging aspects is the investment into going digital and away from paper. Finding the right digital partners, investing in software, and implementing digital solutions is a considerable investment in both time and money. At the end of the day, the directors want digital solutions to enable strategic value and efficiency gains.
Finally, a common concern also lies around the unknowns of cybersecurity. Investing in digital transformation has increased conversations around data security, data breaches, and how organisations can tackle this topic.
What boards should consider when implementing a digital transformation agenda
While the world is moving towards a more digital era, it is important for the board to consider the business risks and how digital transformation will help enhance the existing business model.
Secondly, what is the company’s overall digital strategy? What is the goal of implementing any digital strategies? Once these goals are known, it will be easier to map out a strategy to implement digital solutions.
Another important aspect of the digital transformation agenda is to have the financial aspects covered. This means understanding the digital strategy’s financial impact and the return on investment (ROI) into these new digital tools for the company’s transformation.
As mentioned above, cybersecurity is another vital aspect to consider when implementing a digital transformation agenda. Looking into tools and software that can keep your company’s data secure and ensure best practices for data security is crucial.
Finally, have a timeline to implement the digital transformation roadmap, whether for the whole organisation or a specific department. Timelines help the plan stay on track and collect relevant data to understand the impact of the new strategy.
How boards can support the management team in driving value from its digital transformation strategy
There are multiple ways for the board to support management in driving the company’s digital transformation. To begin with, implementing a digital expertise team is the best way to support all parties involved. This team will communicate between the board and the management that will help execute any digital transformation strategies within the company.
This digital expertise team can also help create and implement digital orientation sessions for all departments. These orientations will help departments and the board embrace digital tools that are either implemented or considered. These orientations can also help board members assess the performance of these tools and how it is helping the overall business of the company.
Finally, the board must support all digital initiatives. This means having a plan to communicate changes and implementations in the company. All board members should be on the same page and be able to answer any questions or provide any support required for the company’s digital transformation strategy.
In conclusion, corporate directors have a prime role to play in ensuring that the benefits of digital strategies are maximized and that risks are identified and addressed. Having a digital team that helps communicate and implement these strategies is one way to go about it. However, it is equally important for the board to support digital transformation and be up to date with any tools used within the company and the industry.
Dr Proctor Nyemba is Certified Professional Director® — Pro.Dir specialising upon Governance and Strategy, Governance and Risk, Governance and People, Governance and Board Effectiveness, Governance and Resources, Governance Culture and Behaviour.