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  • Writer's pictureZesta

Leadership, the importance of board room and C-suite driving long term digital change

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Companies, brands and advertisers alike are facing this reality:

They don’t only need to be customer-centric but people-centric. Your audience does not only expect USPs from you - but a vision, your full commitment, ethics and reliability.

If something has to be learned from the COVID-19 crisis, it is that digital is now a pillar in society. It keeps people together despite distance, informs, feeds, supports and saves them. AI and digital tools inform offline decisions. Digitalisation is the new globalisation.

With the above in mind, it goes without saying that living up to this, the entire organisation must be together and aligned, mind-sets must be changed, silo’s broken down and a customer centric culture must prevail.

At the same time global surveys all point in the same direction:

  • Very few global CEO’s and Boards feel that they have the competencies and the leadership in place to drive long term digital change. One thing is to make the strategic plan, another is to execute it.

  • When execution fails it is most often due to lack of Boardroom and C-level backing and drive. Many Chief Digital Officers (CDO’s), have failed their mission, because they had to drive change without the visible support from the top management suite.

  • Therefore; give the person(s) who drive long term change the mandate and not only the responsibility, make them a part of the Board, part of the top team

Long term digital change - 10 recommendations for actions:

  1. All boardrooms should recruit a digital driver and member of the board. Make sure that long term digital change has THE highest priority, and that the CEO is reflecting this to create full organisational alignment, see #2

  2. Make the plans and ensure full alignment throughout the leadership group, otherwise execution will most likely fail.

  3. Leave the politics aside and use external advisors e.g. use interim managers to drive the process as they have no stake in the history of the company and no organisational aspirations. Lars Holmgaard, an experienced Interim Management recruitment specialist: “With Interim Management Consulting, we have seen very good results when creating great focus through this kind of accelerated digital transformation”

  4. B2B companies: Consider Direct to consumer (DtC) as a supplement to your business. It will give you much needed customer-centric data (first party data) to help you drive your business as well as additional revenue, as you “own” the relationship/data all the way to the consumer, and can leverage on this knowledge ownership to increase performance in lead generation, conversion rates, segmentation and reach. More on that topic in our webinar “the future of e-commerce”, that is a part of the Brand Leadership Community Webinar Series with DCN Nordic in July.

  5. B2C businesses: Covid-19 is a huge shock coming on top of what had to change with GDPR regulations. Working on 1st party data, CRM, content (including videos) and e-commerce/UX are of huge importance. User Experience, on top improving KPIs such as user engagement or Conversion Ratio can now also bring more organic traffic to your site from Google.

  6. Incentivise failure! If you want to boost innovation and a “fail fast” culture, then reward fast-failing ideas as you would reward success, otherwise nobody dares…..

  7. Introduce AGILE ways of working in the company. In particular, breaking large projects into smaller ones, with test and learn processes all along will help you improve business outcomes. At Zesta we always recommend starting long term digital change with a limited number of lighthouse projects for quick wins.

  8. Introduce reverse mentoring program; let the youngest and most digital savvy in the organisation mentor their peers all the way to the CEO and Boardroom. Nestlé has been doing this for several years in order to accelerate digitalisation of their global organisation.

  9. If you decide to create a customer centric culture (highly recommended), make sure that you hire for customer orientation and link employee culture, mind-sets AND compensation to customer outcomes.

  10. Establish a digital Hub, consisting of a mixture of internal and external skills and competencies. Let an external advisor run this Hub, and ensure that the members of the Hub reflect the prioritised projects and tasks.

Zesta is an advisory partner focused on data, tech, media buying transparency, agency ecosystem design, digital skills and innovation trends. We help our clients and brands build a resilient business through the establishment of data-based sales, marketing and brand strategies.


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