Digital Leaders for the Digital Era

In a world that demands change, digital leaders who can make change happen quickly and effectively are in demand. They make it possible to go from surviving to thriving.

A digital transformation (DX) leader plays a determining role in setting the vision. S/he is “responsible for the execution of his or her organization’s DX initiative,” according to IDC. “This executive would have the authority in making key decisions such as project focus, vendor selection, budget approvals, and KPIs” among other things.

Such executives are the role models within their organizations for how to manage the continuous transition from old to new tech. They are experimental in the context of digital transformation and work on empowering their employees. Additionally, they have enabled innovations that have been integrated into the existing organization.

Characteristics of a Digital Leader

A good DX leader excels in the following:

  • Digital vision.  The executive is a critical driver of their digital vision and strategy.
  • Innovation.  The executive is key in fostering IT-enabled innovation.
  • Integration.  The executive is the owner of the agile processes that transition new platforms.
  • Incorporation.  The executive has successfully delivered reliable and secure solutions into the established suite of IT-based products and services

In a report published in October, IDC marked five years of “documenting the rise of the digital economy and the digital transformation that organizations must undergo to compete and survive in this economy”. Moreover, that same report noted that the “digital economy is approaching a critical tipping point”. In just a few short years, IDC predicts that half of worldwide GDP will come from digital products and services.

Surviving to thrive

Now that the world is in the grip of a pandemic, DX is even more important for adapting to the changing landscape across industries and markets. Furthermore, fewer face-to-face interactions require businesses to find contactless means of connecting with their clientele to build empathy at scale. Indeed, businesses must improve throughput and efficiency based on what the market demands and growing trust with their customers.

According to that IDC report, DX leadership is vital to developing the new capabilities their enterprises need to succeed. Other necessary capabilities include “becoming an intelligent (AI-driven) organization, creating software to deliver innovative services and personalized experience at scale, and implementing new work models within the organization”.

CEOs must make shift their view of critical infrastructure from physical plants and buildings. As IDC puts it, “digital IT infrastructure and connectivity”. Without a doubt, in a time of social distancing and contactless transactions, these changes are “necessary to ensure reliable digital services and experiences and to create the pervasive experiences digital customers expect.”

Challenges and adaptation

Digital leaders adapt to and build new industry ecosystems that will define the new value in the digital economy. Besides, they need to determine who their new partners will be and what role they will play in these ecosystems.

According to IDC Chief Research Officer Meredith Whalen, “Organizations face a challenging timeline over the next three years”. She also said that, “by the end of 2019, IDC believes 46% of organizations will be set up for a successful digital transformation—these are the ‘digitally determined”.  In 2020, these organizations will spend $1.3 trillion on the technologies and services that enable the digital transformation of their business models, products and services, and organizations.

Whalen warned that “investor fatigue will start to set in by 2021 and the organizations that have been working toward transformation for four or five years will be expected to show results. Organizations that are lagging will be acquired, out of business, or subjected to new management.” However, she also added that “the organizations that are succeeding at digital transformation will deliver ‘multiplied innovation’ with new business models driving a significant increase in products, services, and experiences.”


Now, more than ever is time for vision, knowledge, and strategy to forge a path that both ensures business continuity and offers the world a way to survive the ravages of COVID-19. Digital leaders need to know which tools to deploy and in which environment in their enterprise. Strong IT leadership is crucial to success in the digital economy—and to the world itself, now.

Successful business leaders now need to understand how to leverage technologies. Further, they must apply them to strategy to maximize value for their organization. IT and business leaders must closely examine where their businesses are, and where they want them to be. As a result, the right combination of resources to drive their DX efforts is achieved. By doing so, they can rebuild economies and communities hit by this pandemic.