Technology

3 Ways Digital Adoption Can Make You a Better Business Leader

There cannot be digital transformation without leaders who have mastered the ins and outs of digital adoption.
3 Ways Digital Adoption Can Make You a Better Business Leader
Image credit: gorodenkoff | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Founder and president of E2M Solutions Inc.
8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Digital transformation has been a buzzword in recent years. Many cite it as a pathway to the future of business, while others view it more as a necessary evil in today’s data-driven work environment -- one that could eventually be devoid of human intelligence.

While neither of these opinions are necessarily right or wrong, the truth we can all agree on is that digital transformation is occurring. According to IDG’s 2018 report, 89 percent of today’s businesses are making digital strategies their top priority.  

For starters, let’s define digital adoption. Digital adoption refers to achieving a state in which people reach the capability to use digital tools to their fullest extent. Take the evolution of the telephone for example. A tool originally designed to make and receive calls has turned into a pocket-sized computer. Each year, an improved model comes out with a plethora of new bells and whistles. And every year, consumers adopt the latest device. 

Related: Everyone Is Talking About the Future of Work. Here Are 4 Ways to Take Your Company Into the Future Now.

Digital transformation, on the other hand, refers to the efforts needed to rewire the entirety of operations across an organization -- in accordance with the constantly-evolving digital world. In order for this to work, a successful approach to digital adoption is crucial. 

As more and more companies begin to realize that digital adoption can make or break modern organizations, the need for cohesive leadership in this process will be greater than ever. There cannot be digital transformation in any industry without leaders who have mastered the ins and outs of digital adoption and are able to help others do the same. 

Here are three reasons why digital adoption is essential for strong leadership in today’s business world.

1. Tomorrow’s leaders need to be prepared for digital adoption.

Referring back to the IDG report, the findings prove that digital adoption is already occurring within the majority of businesses. Most companies these days have integrated technology into more than one of their top strategies, with the most common systems of digital adoption being big data analytics and mobile technology, along with cloud computing and APIs. 

Since digital transformation is clearly the future, businesses that fail to establish a good digital adoption strategy will soon be left behind. Leaders will need to step up and understand the important role that they play in supporting a tech-centric culture that actively embraces digital transformation. 

In order to become an effective leader in any digital transformation, it is critical that you do everything in your power to stay updated with this ever-changing field. Start by keeping up with influencers in the tech industry, such as Isaac Sacolick, CIO of StarCIO, who runs a digital transformation blog. Or check out The Edge podcast that is hosted by Michael Krigsman. Encourage others in your organization to follow in your footsteps to create the kind of business culture that embraces change. This can be done in several ways, such as offering opportunities to participate in continued education courses on digital practices, or allowing employees to attend relevant conventions on the subject.  

Having cutting-edge technology is becoming a necessity in today’s data-driven business climate. That said, your ability to understand the implications of adoption and the best ways to implement it is crucial. The CEOs and executives of tomorrow will need to be highly knowledgeable in the ways that lead to innovation and progress. Furthermore, they will also need to lead others as they adapt to new technology. Technological familiarity and training is going to be more than just a nice addition on the resume for future business leaders; it will be one of the most basic requirements. It is essential for leadership to keep up with the latest strategies and approaches in the tech takeover. 

Related: Why Entrepreneurs Today Should Think About Transformation, Not Disruption

2. Digital adoption allows you to better understand your customers.

A “customer first” approach is what sets the great businesses apart from the good ones. The reason why Apple became the first trillion-dollar business is their leaders knew the importance of listening to what their customers wanted. Steve Jobs and Tim Cook understood that customers wanted powerful yet simple interfaces that were as functional as they were beautiful, which is why so many of their customers are fiercely loyal to their brand.

The age-old question that businesses have sought to answer is how to give their customers what they want. Although some may argue that technology is removing the humanity from the business world, it is clear that computer systems are helping us understand people’s motivations, desires and behavioral patterns better than ever before. 

Digital adoption can help companies go even deeper into their customer profiles to create smarter strategies that boost revenue. For instance, big data analytics are solving huge issues that advertisers faced in the past and allowing them to optimize customer targeting for more strategic campaigns.

For instance, Coca-Cola already has some of the most loyal customers around. But, even they have seen significant benefits from digital adoption in their marketing efforts. In 2015, the brand sought to boost customer retention even more by creating a digital-led loyalty program. By collecting and analyzing loads of consumer behavioral data through a rewards system, Coca-Cola was able to build highly targeted content that was relevant for different audiences. The results included increased customer retention, loyalty rates and more effective upsells. 

An organization that doesn’t know who their customers are, what they want or how best to serve them will always struggle to capture conversions. But leaders who understand how to best use digital tech to get into the mind of their target consumer will be able to guide their teams towards smarter practices that provide customers with the exact experiences they want.

3. Embracing change leads to further innovation.

With the ability to pick and choose the ideal tech solutions, business leaders can find new ways to grow and change for the better. According to a report by Forbes and VMWare, digitally empowered employees are significantly more productive and make smarter decisions in a shorter amount of time -- thanks to technology. Furthermore, a digitally driven workplace has employee satisfaction rates that are nearly four times higher than traditional companies, proving that adapting to the changing digital world is one of the smartest moves a business can make. 

Many digital systems and processes are still relatively new, and technology is consistently changing and improving all the time. There are countless ways that businesses are using this kind of technology. From data security for IT teams, to road mapping marketing strategies, to keeping an eye on internal operations, modern businesses have options to select the digital platforms that suit their exact needs. 

Due to the fact that digitally-forward organizations are able to accomplish more in less time, leaders who push for digital adoption can practically ensure that their business will find ways to remain innovative and creative. A business leader who understands digital adoption -- as well as the best strategies and approaches to apply it within the business -- will be able to cultivate a culture of innovation. As employees become more comfortable with digital approaches, there is no doubt that they will find new ways to use these programs for faster results that lead them towards true digital transformation.

Related: Does Your Business Need a Digital Transformation?

Conclusion.

The benefits of adopting more digital tech are pretty clear in terms of business outcomes. Smarter analytic reporting supports smarter strategies and decision making, which leads to better profits. Becoming more comfortable and familiar with digital transformation can help create better leaders for the business world of tomorrow. 

But, true digital transformation is about far more than just utilizing technology in day-to-day practices to increase productivity and profitability -- though these are obviously clear benefits. The bottom line is that digital transformation will fail without effective digital adoption and strong leadership. This concept applies to businesses of all shapes and sizes that work to leverage digital tools. Understanding the finer details of adoption can help you on your journey to becoming a better business leader and allow you to guide your organization into the future.

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