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Your culture determines transformation, not your technology

November 21, 2018

If you thought digital transformation was all about picking the right technology and the battle would be won, you’ve been unknowingly limiting your businesses’ potential.

In fact, according to our new study at Tata Communications, in conjunction with Singapore Management University – Executive Development (SMU-ExD), KPMG and DBS Bank, leader effectiveness is directly correlated with perceptions of organisational readiness for digital transformation and that transformation initiatives will only succeed if they are championed by the actions – not only the words – of an organisation’s leader.

The study, which was launched on 20th November 2018, outlines a number of factors that businesses must face up to in order to propel their businesses forward in the digital age and offers an intriguing insight into what leaders should be doing to make a success of all the new opportunities on our plates.

1. Leaders must drive the change

CEOs must assume the role of a ‘chief evangelist’ of transformation, to persuasively, persistently and convincingly articulate and communicate the “why” behind each initiative. In turn, this will inspire their staff and champion a culture of change, which will lead to a positive impact on the business.

87% of respondents agreed that culture created bigger barriers to digital transformation than technology and 70% agreed that their leaders had the ability to lead on digital transformation, but only 50% believed that they were appreciative of implementational challenges.

The study also identified that teams will only embrace change if they understand why transformation is needed and if they have faith in their leaders. Interestingly, 100% of C-suite level executives agreed that digitalisation is the “new normal”, with a universal belief that embracing digital transformation was urgent and critical for the organisation to not only thrive, but in fact, to survive.

2. A question of readiness

“Readiness” was perceived to not just be about technology, but also about the organisation itself: its culture, new mindsets and leader behaviours. The “readier” the organisation was perceived to be, the greater the need was felt for cultural change and for conducive leadership behaviours to be embraced.

Positively, we found that there is a growing emphasis on the importance of inclusiveness in these journeys: 80% of C-suite interviews highlighted how important it is to focus on ‘people aspects’.

3. Innovation culture

In a fast-changing world, this research shows that business leaders must lead from the front and focus on building an innovation culture, where staff can become life-long learners.

Today’s transformation leaders have focused on sparking a change in mindset by championing cultural traits like openness, flexibility and agility. As a result, they have more engaged teams that are better able to flex to market trends, spot opportunities and react fast.

The study was conducted in partnership with Fons Trompenaars of Trompenaars Hampden-Turner (THT) and is based on quantitative and qualitative insight from 48 C-suite leaders and 401 anonymous executives.

You can find out more of our insights and download a copy of the report here.