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Digital leadership is often referred to as being the navigation of a business towards digital transformation in order to stay competitive and agile.

With a plethora of ‘digital’ solutions on offer, any business leader would be forgiven for handing ‘digital’ over to the technology experts – who surely must know what is right for the business? However, in my opinion, with the digital landscape more fragmented than ever, now is the time for business leaders to take a different view of digital and embrace all it has to offer.

Many senior managers will say they are ‘doing digital’ or have digitised their business, but often that means investing in new IT equipment which may (or may not) have an impact on business performance.

Being digital is so much more – it is about business first, technology second. It is about finding solutions to business problems using digital technologies, and that requires vision and leadership. Because of the diversity of approach to digital, there are different stages of digital maturity within different businesses. It’s important business leaders not only understand how digitally mature they are as a business, but also what the art of the possible is so that they can develop a roadmap for the future.

A business’s digital strategy needs to be aligned with the general business strategy – it cannot be developed in isolation and again, that requires leadership from leaders who understand digital. It is not simply the technology itself, but the impact it could have for the business. The beneficial impact of a properly aligned digital strategy can be wide ranging for any business which is why it is so important to have the leadership and the strategy to support it. The benefits are far ranging from increased focus on innovation, better use of business data, improved customer experience to more cohesive and streamlined communications and improvements in processes, efficiencies, and productivity, but business leaders need to have a digital mindset to fully embrace all that digital has to offer.

Digital leaders will set the vision, influence their people, define processes, look for continual improvement and track impact. Although it is essential businesses have stable and secure infrastructure, people are undoubtedly the most important factor in digital transformation, not technology. Leaders must understand how their employees and teams relate to and interact with that technology too. Most leaders are committed to investing in acquiring the right skills for them and their workforce to make the business successful but, all too often leaders are unable to identify and access suitable support and training.

I’m not advocating that all business leaders become technology experts and add another string to their bows, but business leaders need to get involved, get educated and make decisions about their businesses having considered all possible solutions, including digital ones. And they need to be properly supported to do so.

At Square One Law, we work with all different types and sizes of businesses and I know from the conversations I have had there is a need for better signposting and visibility of the support and funding available to support digital activity, including digital leadership and the management of change.

We are working in partnership with the North East England Chamber of Commerce to try and set out clear recommendations to Government to enable the North East to capitalise on its potential as a centre of excellence for digital business. If you want to participate in our campaign or share your businesses digital transformation journey, please email Gill Hall.

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