CEO’s Role in Driving Company Digital Transformation

by / ⠀Featured News / July 27, 2023
CEO's Role in Driving Company Digital Transformation

Digital transformation (DT) has become imperative for organizations looking to maintain a competitive edge in the evolving business landscape. However, despite the recognition of its importance, many organizations struggle to successfully implement this change. In fact, according to Forrester, only 15% of organizations have made a company digital transformation, despite it being a priority for 87% of senior executives, as reported by Gartner.

The Disconnect: Understanding the Challenges

The disconnect between the recognition of the need for digital transformation and its actual implementation can be attributed to a number of factors. One of the primary challenges is the complexity and perceived intimidation of the process. A company digital transformation can be difficult to interpret, leading to a reluctance among stakeholders to accept the change.

To overcome these hurdles, steady leadership is essential. Research has shown that a full commitment from the CEO is pivotal in addressing all issues and successfully driving any digital transformation initiative.

Assembling the Right Team

One of the crucial factors behind a successful digital transformation is assembling the right team. Regardless of the initial timeline established in the strategic plan, organizations need to be flexible, allowing their teams time to react and resolve issues. The three groups that are essential to achieving a company digital transformation include:

Technical Experts

Working closely with technical leadership is crucial in the decision-making process. Technical experts provide the necessary expertise to effectively implement the transformation. Depending on their technical knowledge and capabilities, they develop the software and coding needed for a successful transition.

Project Managers

Project managers play a critical role in overseeing each element of the digital transformation process. They are responsible for keeping everyone on track and on time. Establishing a direct and honest relationship with project managers is essential to gain accurate and reliable reporting about milestones. Honesty and time management are key capabilities of the project manager’s role.

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The CEO and the executive leadership team are at the forefront of driving digital transformation. They provide a detailed strategic plan, prioritize the elements of the transformation, and motivate each team involved. It is important for the CEO to keep expectations realistic, both in terms of what can be accomplished and the timing of the process. Building confidence in the support of the CEO is crucial for the success of the transformation. This ensures that issues are identified and resolved quickly, preventing them from snowballing into larger problems.

Getting Started: Understanding Customer Needs

When embarking on a digital transformation journey, understanding the needs of potential customers is key. Conducting market research and gathering customer feedback can provide valuable insights into pain points and areas for improvement.

The choice customers make when purchasing products is a very personal decision. While digital channels may be a priority, it is important to acknowledge that some customers may still prefer more traditional sales channels. Offering a variety of sales avenues ensures that customers have the option to choose the method that best suits their preferences.

Overcoming Roadblocks: Employee Pushback

One of the biggest obstacles organizations face in digital transformation is employee pushback. According to McKinsey, 70% of failed digital transformations in US companies can be attributed to employees not buying into the transition.

Clear, direct, and honest communication is crucial in addressing employee objections and concerns. CEOs need to communicate their plans and set expectations to alleviate fear, rumors, and anger that may arise from the uncertainty surrounding the transition. Employees may be fearful that their jobs will be replaced or made redundant. Effective communication can help prevent employee attrition and ensure a smooth transition.

Getting Outside Sales to Embrace the Digital Culture

When undergoing a digital transformation, it is important to consider all stakeholders, including partners, suppliers, and brokers. These external entities play a crucial role in the organization’s ecosystem and should be brought along on the company digital transformation journey. Keeping them informed and ensuring their buy-in can help mitigate any concerns they may have about their role within the channel. Additionally, they can provide valuable insights and experiences from similar transformations.

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The CEO’s Challenge: Leading the Organization

As the CEO, your leadership abilities will be tested throughout the company digital transformation process. Bringing together all company employees and stakeholders to implement digital transformation requires effective leadership and coordination. There is a significant shift in the responsibilities and roles of professionals with a digital transformation of various operations and processes. Providing training and constant communication are as important as providing adequate resources to ensure the success of the transformation.

Allocating Budget for Innovation

To achieve a successful digital transformation, leaders must allocate a significant portion of their budget to innovation. According to Deloitte, more than 50% of IT budgets are spent on maintenance, with only 19% dedicated to innovatio. To drive successful digital transformation, leaders must prioritize innovation and allocate a higher percentage of the budget to drive change and stay ahead of the competition.

Embracing Digital Transformation: The Path to Success

Digital transformation is no longer an option but a necessity for organizations looking to thrive in today’s digital era. While the process may be complex and challenging, with the right team, leadership, and understanding of customer needs, organizations can successfully navigate the company digital transformation journey.

Today, we have more knowledge and resources than ever before to guide us through the process of digital transformation. As a CEO, it is crucial to dedicate your organization to making the switch and embrace digital transformation to ensure future business success.


What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is the process of utilizing digital technologies to fundamentally change business operations, processes, and customer experiences. It involves the integration of digital technologies into all aspects of an organization, leading to improved efficiency, agility, and innovation.

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Why is the CEO’s role important in driving digital transformation?

The CEO’s role is critical in driving This practice because they provide the vision, strategic direction, and leadership needed to successfully implement change. A CEO’s commitment and support are essential in addressing issues, motivating teams, and ensuring the success of the transformation.

How can organizations overcome employee pushback during digital transformation?

Clear and effective communication is key in addressing employee pushback during digital transformation. CEOs should communicate their plans, set expectations, and address employee concerns to alleviate fear and resistance. Providing training and resources, as well as involving employees in the transformation process, can also help mitigate pushback.

How can organizations allocate budget for innovation during digital transformation?

To allocate budget for innovation during digital transformation, leaders should prioritize innovation and allocate a higher percentage of the budget to drive change. This may involve reallocating resources from maintenance and operational costs to innovation initiatives.

What are the benefits of digital transformation?

This practice offers numerous benefits to organizations, including improved efficiency, enhanced customer experiences, increased agility, and the ability to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. It can lead to cost savings, revenue growth, and the ability to capitalize on new opportunities.

Digital transformation is a journey that requires strong leadership, a dedicated team, and a deep understanding of customer needs. With the right approach and commitment, organizations can successfully navigate the challenges of digital transformation and position themselves for long-term success in the digital era.

First reported on Chief Executive

About The Author

Kimberly Zhang

Editor in Chief of Under30CEO. I have a passion for helping educate the next generation of leaders.