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CEO’s Guide to Digital Transformation


In today’s Digital Technology centered business environment, CEOs are consistently under pressure to build, execute, and attain a successful Digital Transformation strategy. Modern requirements require modern approaches. The businesses are left with no choice in today’s marketplace where Digital Transformation is an integral part to stay relevant. Disrupt or just be disrupted.

Anyone looking for Digital Transformation guides online come across McKinsey, a leading online publisher of guides on Digital Transformation Strategy. They already have everything covered on any topic on Digital Transformation. However, we can’t say that we 100% agree with everything said by Mckinsey. Mckinsey is probably one of the most valuable sources of information on Digital Transformation, don’t get us wrong. But our ideas and strategies come from the first-hand experiences we have gathered over the years by helping businesses execute their digital transformation strategy successfully

Leapfrog has served a number of corporations from various industries to transform digitally in an innovative and cost-efficient way while avoiding drastic changes to their culture.

There is a lot of misguided information on the internet that suggests companies make a grand overhaul completely changing the organization’s culture, processes, system, and even business model. However, in our own experience, the best way to make a digital shift and maximize ROI on digital transformation is by keeping what’s working and implementing new processes only when required. The new processes, culture, and everything implemented should drive the company’s mission instead of causing new complications.

For a CEO, managing the budget and making some cut-throat decisions are the crucial parts of a business. But doing so while getting the best out of people and maintaining company culture is equally important. An example would be to try and make sure the employees welcome the change that comes with the digital transformation.

Digital Leadership during Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation isn’t just a buzzword but a necessity for businesses to remain viable in today’s world that is increasingly moving towards mobility and agility. Two-thirds of the CEOs have recognized their companies need to digitize by the end of 2020 to remain competitive in this Digital Innovation and Data-Driven world of business and commerce. 

Leapfrog Technology Inc. is more focused on getting better results and help achieve CEO/CIOs and businesses with a successful and effective transition which in case we depend on other reliable surveys to present a statistical view into the Digital Transformation and leadership.

A study from CapGemini led us to a conclusion suggesting Digital Leaders meaningfully outclass their peers across industries: Profitability is 26% higher, with 12% higher market caps and 9% higher return on assets.

The prerequisite for CEOs opting for Digital Transformation is to deploy a Digital Transformation strategy with an understanding of the opportunities and threats it poses.

The start-up CEOs have gotten around the digitization from the start and it is quite significant given the many examples of growth from start-up to a huge organization but they still have kept themselves intact to their start-up working style. In order to thrive, CEOs must find ways to innovate or risk competitors taking the initiative. 

 Digital Leaders are gaining more organic search and traffic.

Digital Leaders have maintained good domain scores.

Digital leaders have inspired employees to digitize.

Digital Leaders have converted their products and services into software, applications, online tools to cater to their audience, serve the company’s needs, and achieve its goals.

Stay true to your DNA and Culture

Start-ups begin their journey Digitally, it is established companies that most need to go through Digital Transformation. Digital Transformation strategies of Spotify, Airbnb, Uber have revolutionized the music, hotel, taxi and these are only a few examples of many. They have found a better way to cater to their audiences in a very cost-effective way through digitization. These companies have created new operational models but they have stayed true to their DNA and maintained their culture. CEO’s can adapt to these new working models and can attain such a mark in the industry by carefully enabling Digitization. 

The most classic example of a CEO adapting to Digital Transformation while staying true to their DNA is the Digital Business transformation of Domino’s Pizza. 

Everything Changed for Domino’s after their Digital Transformaton.

Over the last few years, Domino’s has put together a remarkable and three-dimensional digital experience for its users which many e-commerce businesses envy. Domino’s CEO, J. Patrick Doyle has shown in his tenure how Digital Transformation adds business value.

Domino’s business was at its low in the 2000s. Dominos’ Pizza went through difficulties in sales as well as the image leading to an all-time low in stock price in 2008. The companies share at the time dropped down to $3.00 a share while today the stock price sits atop at $211.

About the time Domino’s went through a complete transformation.  They invested to change their ingredients, recipes, and menu to attain a better product quality but it was the Digital transformation investment that proved to be groundbreaking for Domino’s Pizza. 

Setting your Digital Transformation Goals

Before launching digital transformation, the CEOs must identify their end goal. Beyond the clear need to stay competitive and increase market share, some businesses may choose to transform digitally to serve their customers better, by presenting new products or services. Others may digitize to rationalize core procedures or free up their employees’ time to do less routine jobs. Take the time to shape these preferred outcomes, as this will outline the nature of the digital strategy you should be implementing.

“There isn’t one approach that is the golden ticket to digital transformation success, but there are many ways to ensure you get the most out of the process.”

-Duncan Tait, CEO of Fujitsu EMEI

Digital Transformation Strategy for CEOs 

For a successful Digital Transformation, CEOs need to identify what can go wrong and what processes will work. Leapfrog Technology Inc has worked with various companies undergoing digital transformation and identified a few steps to take one at a time before completely immersing in the change. 

1. To go fast, go slow

A number of roles from various departments will have to collaborate to achieve a successful Digital Transformation. It is fair to say in the average organization most of the employees do not know about their colleague’s roles.  The first step would be to change this for a Digital Transformation process to succeed. CEOs need to take time to ensure that every individual involved is aware of what others are occupied with. 

2. Making sure the journey is smooth

For any Digital Business Transformation, Technology sits at its heart. The reality is if the implemented technology is difficult to use people will not use it. Today, a large percentage of the workforce in the U.S are digital natives. An in-house technology shall be intuitive or the businesses will risk losing such a workforce. From the viewpoint of the customers, the digital journey they commence on through your transformation must be smooth for them to happily adapt to the change. 

3. Articulate a sense of need

The most important element of any transformation would be transparency. Everyone involved in the process needs to know why to invest in Digital Transformation. You are asking your employees and customers to change and to adapt to it, if you do not layout a reasonable and convincing sense of need into their minds they are not going to buy into it. CEOs, CIOs, and other decision-makers for the Digital Transformation have to take time to ensure everyone involved has bought into it from the Board members to the interns or you will be simply jeopardizing a long-term transformation as well the company culture. 

4. Use the Agile Approach – Shrink the Change

Chip and Dan Heath in their book Switch have coined the expression Shrink the Change, Shape The Path.

CEOs need to adapt to this philosophy to execute a large-scale process like Digital Transformation. Cut down a large project into many smaller steps so it is easier. Charities are a brilliant example for this. They send their messaging out saying just $1 contribution from you could make all the difference. And we believe them because it’s true.

After having it shrunk into smaller steps, Shape the Path: Identify where each step should be going in the process to achieve the goal. 

5. Build a long term strategy to determine the next step

While you are getting all set to sail the Digital Transformation Boat across the lake beware that it is a sailboat, not a motor powered. You might want different people to row the boat at times, slow down sometimes and most of the time already think about the next step.  When you have set foot onto building something you do not stop after the foundation. CEOs need to take care that the foundation turns into a functioning shape and operates with the outcome for decades to come. Planning for the best next step is the key and keep doing it until you have achieved what you think is a success for the business. 

Learn from others success

Here is a look into how Alan Talbot, CIO, Air Malta got ready to embark on the Digital Transformation Journey to support Business Growth that places Customer and Customer experience to its core. 

Maltese national airline, Air Malta, undertook digital transformation with a detailed five-year plan. Air Malta prioritized the first two years with revenue generation, efficiency and optimization were major objectives for the third year while the fourth year was dedicated to innovation. Air Malta planned to spend the last year of the plan on consolidating all new technology, integrations, and platforms. They identified a path to follow but CEOs must be scalable with their plans and be prepared for the deviations that come along the way.

“If we don’t innovate then we’re out of business. We have to constantly change in order to challenge the status quo. Innovation is the only way to survive. One of the most critical components for the success of our Digital Transformation, was having a trusted partner  supporting the day-to-day roll-out of new services.”

Alan Talbot, CIO @ Air Malta in an interview with Gigabit Magazine

Having a trustful partner is one of the key goals unless you decide to hire the best of the people in the business to help you out with Digital Transformation. It is people and their talent that is required the most. You either need to hire a trustful company like Air Malta and its CIO Alan Talbot did or create and manage a talent pool to help your business get through a successful Digital Transformation. The latter, however, as we all know, turns out to be quite expensive. On the contrary, outsourcing to a company almost guarantees results, provided that you choose the right company.

Air Malta saw a complete overhaul of the company’s operational model, IT infrastructure, and also outsourced to attain agility and has embarked on an API led economy. Talbot partnered with a leading application network company and implemented an API integration platform, MuleSoft. 

In an interview with Gigabit Magazine, Talbot explains, “MuleSoft had one of the most holistic and enabling platforms whereby even the most non-technical personnel could create connectivity and develop the integration. We have partnered with Ricston, a local implementation partner for the successful design and deployment of our Hybrid Integration Platform, and we are still collaborating to this day in delivering high-quality integration projects by utilizing this technology. The fact that we could rely on a local partner to support us in this delicate part of our strategy was essential in gaining stability and building up the momentum. This was something that we were seriously looking at as we wanted to start capitalizing on the investment we did and maximize the opportunities that come around on a commercial basis.”

Air Malta to further achieve its Digital Transformation goals partnered with Lufthansa Systems.  This way Air Malta was successful in the implementation of the Lufthansa Systems leading solutions. Talbot in the same interview with Gigabit Magazine also said, “We have significant synergies with Lufthansa Systems when it comes to defining certain operational and commercial related technology. They provide one of the best flight planning solutions on the market and this was something that we couldn’t possibly achieve in the past because we lacked server integration abilities, so our partnerships have been very important to us.”

Take lessons from the failure of others

Here is a look into how P&G, a fortune 500 company failed in its digital transformation journey but it is also important to take into account that it didn’t stop there and managed to gain success by trying again with lessons learned from its failures. The majority of the Digital Transformation efforts hit roadblocks and failures but it is important to try again correctly and gain success. 

Procter & Gamble

The consumer packaged goods giant, Procter & Gamble decided to set on a Digital Transformation journey in 2012. Before deciding to take things to the next level by embarking on a Digital Transformation journey, P&G was already leading the industry. However, the transformation didn’t see the face of success as their broad initiative lacked purpose. The CEO was asked to resign as the company faced problems from the start. 

What other CEOs can learn from P&G’s Digital Transformation failure

The first and foremost thing is to look out for the competition in the industry that can challenge your leadership position. Identify if the ROI for the overall transformation is worth the investment. P&G could have focused more on the existing products that could have gained them more ROI through Digital Transformation rather than committing the whole company to Digital Transformation when they were clearly the leaders in the industry. The company failed to see they were clearly ahead in the industry and a Digital Transformation just for the sake of living up to the trend isn’t enough risking the economy.

Here’s a blog that might interest you: 7 Reasons Why Most Digital Transformations Fail

Do not adopt to change for the sake of adopting it

Before venturing into the Digital Transformation, CEOs need to ensure the organization is ready for a change. Being change-ready goes beyond being able to deploy new processes and tools. CEOs must be ready to adopt a new operational model and make sure the Digital Transformation Strategy deployment doesn’t totally change the company culture. A foundation for any successful change, effective personalized communication should be CEO’s top priority along with implementing the right structure positions and approach to gain to become more proactive, agile, and scalable to any opportunities and challenges that come your way. 

In this age where Digital Transformation has been identified as a necessity, CEOs are more likely to adopt it just for the sake of adopting it. This is a huge mistake that most commit. Plan, get ready, set your goals, build a roadmap, and then embark on the Digital Transformation journey. 

A digital transformation is a complex and precarious exertion. When done fittingly, it can lead to astonishing results, but when done the wrong way it can be awfully expensive and agonizing for the business. 

Leapfrog helps small and medium businesses envision and execute digital transformation and innovation. Leapfrog has developed the digital flywheel that accelerates automated digital transformation and innovation.

Book a Free 30 minutes Consultation about how Leapfrog can help you bring digital transformation to your business.

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