Why the big four aren’t right for transformation.

This article was originally published on B&T.

With the accusation that the ‘big four’ consulting firms are confusing the market by misunderstanding digital strategy, the need for business leaders to know what digital transformation means is more imperative than ever.

The C-Suite need to make a mindset shift. Digital can no longer be a new website or Facebook. In 2016, digital has to have a seat in the boardroom and CEOs need to drive the digital agenda. Leaders need to drive a culture that is customer centric and puts digital at the forefront – not as an afterthought. This means going deeper than developing a digital strategy and instead pro-actively driving a digital transformation journey.

Digital transformation is not a new term. It has been thrown around as a solution to ‘digital distress’ for years as leaders have grappled to understand what this actually means. With large firms incorrectly using digital strategy and digital transformation interchangeably, many CEOs are confused – and rightly so. The distinction between them is actually quite stark. Digital strategy is a plan for maximising the business benefits of digital initiatives across an organisation, whereas digital transformation is the creation of a culture which adopts digital at its core.

Unleashing digital ownership from a single department is key, and having a leader that can drive the digital conversation in the boardroom is paramount.

But in 2016, the norm is for digital ownership to be siloed into one department; usually marketing, communications or even IT. Which is exactly why companies need to give digital a seat in the boardroom. Business leaders need to be digitally savvy and articulate their vision for technology across the company. They need to be able to explain what it means for business. They need to encourage a culture that rewards experimentation and entrepreneurship, so that staff are willing to invest time and resources into trialing new tools and new ways of working. A mindset that is open to change needs to underpin all digital projects and embedding it as a norm right across the company is the first step to success on the transformation journey.

To be successful, business leaders need to understand how people and technology collide. As true transformation sits at the intersection between digital strategy and culture. You need a digital first culture that is agile, responsive and encourages experimentation.

The “big four” are not specialists in creating a culture that sees failing regularly as a key to success, they specialise in delivering reports, strategies and solutions to pre-determined problems. Before you invest thousands in getting on the journey, consider whether the chosen partner understands how to connect with your customer in the digital first world, and also how to nurture the culture to get there. This is one instance where bigger is not necessarily better. Australian businesses need a partner that will go with them on the journey, not a consultant who delivers a piece of work and walks out the door.

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