Technology disruption is like the second Big Bang to hit our planet. While this phase of digital transformation has created an environment of uncertainty, and all businesses feel the impact, the challenge of adapting and keeping up remains ginormous.

The biggest touchstone for success will be the ability to keep learning and transforming, and leadership skills to make quick decisions and know the direction in which to steer development, considering the massive paradigm shifts involved.

 Technology that drives our world is advancing at an unprecedented rate. So we still don't know the answer to 'how' it will pan out. This “not knowing” is characteristic of the so-called “fourth industrial revolution.” We need a compass to chart out a course and determine which skills and abilities are essential to leverage business success in such a tumultuous environment. 

The adoption of new technologies is associated with major drivers of the transformation that lie just around the corner and are sure to have an impact, such as artificial intelligence, robots, 3D printing, or biotech. Most analysts place the tipping point in about ten years, a prediction based on the speed with which exponential innovations are dissolving boundaries, combining new frontiers of science and technology, such as molecular biology or material science. This reality translates into improvements and breakthroughs in an increasingly wide range of industries, functions, and disciplines. For example, it is estimated that by about 2027, around 10% of cars will be self-driving, with consequent changes in fields such as insurance, accident rates, or traffic management.

Dealing with the digital boom 
Change is an imperative and it affects the entire company; it cuts across all business areas due to the emergence of a new kind of digital consumer. It becomes increasingly necessary to stay abreast of the latest developments and constantly update your data on the environment, and to act accordingly once the situation is understood. The first step is to work out the company’s vision, with constantly updated research on the competition, the market reality, and the company’s strategic needs. 

A better understanding of technological disruption and a commitment to preparing for the future will lead to a new way of looking at skills and abilities. 

Learning or the ability to draw lessons from past experiences and apply them to current challenges will be crucial in tackling change. Transformative capabilities, or leadership skills and traits oriented toward ensuring successful change and the adoption of technologies is what companies need to zero in on. The ability to keep learning is the most important pillar, since 65% of the jobs that will be relevant ten years from now have not yet been invented! 

Key skills for leaders 

It has been observed that nearly 70% of the skills companies recruit for are related to change. So when an area is looking for a manager, seven out of ten times it wants to find someone who can help it modify a given situation or unit. This means that much more value is placed on the ability to negotiate uncertain environments, change, and transformation today, than in the past. 

Not only will all industries be impacted by the digital transformation, but the skill sets and jobs of the future will change too. Some 50% of the first-year courses for different technical degree programmes may be meaningless four years later, when the students graduate. However, statistics and studies show that the transformation will not destroy too many jobs; instead, new roles will need to be defined. 

Key digital skills for leaders include the ability to learn, put a finger on trends, and the ability to quickly draw and apply lessons from previous experiences. They must both be willing to leave their comfort zone and seek to develop their team’s digital talent, nudging it toward new technologies.
One thing that needs to be omnipresent among the leadership in a company is proactivity. The goal is to maintain the company’s competitive position in the market and to grow. It is necessary to combine data and business strategy to work on specific challenges, drawing on market studies, trends, and information. Agility in processes and speed in decision-making are key factors in an environment of digital transformation. 

As with any change, it is most important to realise and accept the need for transformation, to help management understand and internalise this need for change in order to capitalise on the resulting opportunities. To survive and stay competitive in today’s world, it is necessary to cultivate a new mindset. A mindset that change is inevitable and adapting is not an option

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XEDGlobal Program Choices for driving changes

  •     Harvard Business School - Changing the Game: Negotiation and Competitive Decision-Making
  •     MIT Sloan Executive Education - Leading Change in Complex Organizations
  •     Stanford Executive Education – Leading Change and Organisational Renewal
  •     INSEAD Executive Education - Leading Successful Change 
  •     Columbia Business School - Leading Strategic Growth and Change
  •     Northwestern Kellogg - Driving Organizational Change