Rapidly evolving technologies demand digital leadership

13 July 2021 Consultancy-me.com 3 min. read

With digital transformation becoming more complex than ever, digital leadership at all levels and functions is required for success – Mazhar Hussain, KPMG Saudi Arabia’s Head of Digital Science and Innovation, explains why. 

Gone are the days when a single individual directed enterprise-wide transformation. It is no longer just the Chief Technology Officer who takes charges as the only digital leader within an organization. Unlike previous organizational models, digital leaders sit at every level and function. 

Wherever they work, they are living and breathing the vision that digital journey is not just a job for the few, but a movement shared and driven by the many – from global energy majors to niche tech providers. That transformation is not just a divisional initiative, but the sustainable way that things get done across the enterprise.

Digital leaders

The recent, rapid rise in the pace and scale of change demands a complete re-evaluation of responsibilities, and thus, digital transformation requires active participation from the support staff to top management. 

KPMG’s 2021 CEO Outlook Pulse Survey recorded that 74% of business leaders agree that the digitization of their operations has hastened since the year before – a figure that is 24% higher than in August 2020. Similarly, business leaders plan to invest more in technology in 2021 in order to further develop their organization’s digital capabilities. Digital leadership has created a sustainable route for getting things done across the enterprise.

In wake of technologically advanced culture across society and business landscape, Saudi Arabia timely launched new initiatives, including a range of new entities that underline the scale of the Kingdom’s digital ambition is monumental. Saudi’s new digital initiatives closely complement the Vision 2030. 

Digital leadership in practice

Who is a digital leader? An ‘architect’ who develops and executes the organization’s digital strategy and architecture. An ‘implementer’ who works closely with business lines to implement tools. A ‘coordinator’ who brings together people with disparate skills to work together and encourage collaboration. A ‘relationship builder’ who connects with third-party technology providers to incorporate their specialized skills into the organization’s digital strategy and business strategy.

Our newest report, ‘KPMG Guide to Digital Leadership’ concludes that digital leaders deliver results that others do not whilst improving lives and organization’s operations. Digital leaders are nearly four times as effective in maximizing the value of data. While many organizations have a data strategy, digital leaders are four and a half times more effective at ‘executing’ against it. To develop digital leadership capabilities through learning, individuals grow their mindset from digital awareness to digital affirmation. 

Authentic digital leadership is a two-part pursuit. Firstly, it focuses on creating a sense of connectivity across the enterprise between individuals and their mission, whether that be their personal or collective endeavor. Secondly, digital leadership is pioneering a shift in the most productive talent-upskilling, training, and hiring to ensure the adequacy of all team members. 

A digital leader must be an intellectually and practically minded individual with an accelerated capacity for multimodal thinking as such qualities enable digital leaders to deliver creative solutions to complex problems. A fluid mindset is crucial for digital leaders as they must possess the ability to adapt to sudden changes and take charge of a variety of situations.

KPMG’s guide to digital leadership sets out a practical path to develop leaders at all levels (executives, senior managers and line managers) and functions of an organization.