Digital Leadership

With the advent of Technology becoming pervasive in our lives, the inevitable digital transformation has touched every industry and changed the way we do things. For instance, the invention of the da Vinci robot for surgery has hugely transformed the healthcare industry allowing the surgeon to remotely perform highly delicate surgeries. The automotive industry is moving towards electric, autonomous, driver-less cars/trucks. The real estate industry uses AR/VR and sometimes MR (mixed reality) effectively to showcase a project. The media industry is not left far behind and is undergoing a tremendous digital transformation. During the Rio Olympics, an Artificial Intelligence bot generated and published over 400 articles.

Going forward it is therefore prudent to equip ourselves for the next level of business leadership – transforming from traditional to digital leadership.

Dovetailing from data analytics to business intelligence, big data to machine learning that finally culminated into Artificial Intelligence is a progressive evolving interlocking story. Leadership in big corporations can lay down the vision and find people to execute/fulfill the vision; but it only works well when the vision and leadership have access to the right resources at the right moment in time with equitable computing prowess to convert that vision into reality.

Doing business in the digital era is not a 9 to 5 job – we have to flick the switch into an ‘always on’ mode, as our customers are ‘always on’ too. Using the digital tools available to communicate and engage with customers and communities becomes essential in this constantly evolving digital world.

Many people consider that digital leadership is premised on ‘disruption’ being an ‘event’. In my opinion any ‘disruption’ brought about by technology is a ‘process’ rather than an ‘event’. So we should build skills that help us navigate this evolution of technology, adapt to them and help us understand and manage the evolutionary process.

I attended four communications conferences this year in various capacities. I noticed that the topics frequently covered the role of communication managers in the ever-changing digital landscape.

Here are some of the top requisites stay in the game:

Be digitally savvy

In a recently held CCO meet up, the Page Society spoke about ‘CommTech’, which are databased tools and techniques to reach out to various stakeholders. The data helps create targeted, hence superior content, which are tailor-made for the audience. The first step to be a part of ‘digital leadership’ is to understand these tools and techniques, which are available to us and then choose the most relevant ones to go from proactive to predictive.

Get the right resources

With digital disruption, there are also adept, agile digital experts who specialise in communications. While we learn to understand the digital landscape of our industry, it’s important to onboard such experts who can streamline content for the digital tools to better the experience of the stakeholders.

Work on mindsets

You can have the knowledge and the resources, but what will really change the game is to change the culture and the mindset to make it nimble and tuned in. The speed at which the industry is evolving, we have to open our minds to learning and adapting at lightning speed.

Digital engagement

Not to be confused with social media engagement, digital is about everything online. Right from having a chatbot to answer customer queries, to apps to educate children, to the digital tools for employees – social and operational, adopting technology for user-generated content to community management, there is so much to digital engagement. It is important today to understand ‘digital engagement’ to be able to deploy them for effective communications for now and in the future.

Understanding data

Although this is the last bullet, digital leadership starts with data. You might have heard that ‘Data is the new ‘OIL’ – so it’s imperative for practitioners to be in a position to collect, analyse, understand and interpret data to create engaging content for our audiences. While we are doing so, we have to be mindful about an individual’s privacy and their liberty. More information is in the Personal Data Protection bill. We now know that data that can identify individuals may be weaponised to target them. Hence, we should tread with caution.

To those of us who are yet to embark on the path to digital transformation this quote by Pierre Nanteme, CEO, Accenture might help: “Digital is the main reason just over half of the companies on Fortune 500 have disappeared since year 2000.”

Ira Pradhan on LinkedinIra Pradhan on Twitter
Ira Pradhan
Ira is a Corporate Communications Leader with experience in Healthcare, Consumer Electronics, IT, Retail and the Automotive industry. She hails from the small and beautiful state of Sikkim and considers herself a complete Mountain Girl.

In a career spanning over a decade as a communications expert, she has championed and led programs on several sustainable business practices, diversity and inclusion programs.

She loves to read literature, and books on management and development in technology and economics. She mentors young women students & entrepreneurs in her home state, Sikkim.

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