The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing how we live, do business and interact with friends, family, customers and colleagues – both in India and across the globe.
Last year, I wrote about the role of the CIO in this situation and how they need to focus on skills that aren’t necessarily technical, such as broader business skills and the ability to be strategic, creative, growth-minded and cost-conscious. I discussed how CIOs’ roles are changing, as they become ever more important to big boardroom decisions.
These observations remain true, but, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution gathers steam, what about other members of the C-suite? More specifically, what about those at the top? What about the CEOs?
A position of responsibility
CEOs in India face many of the same obstacles in the transition to digital as their colleagues around the world. Yet India also faces a set of unique challenges, both for its enterprises and their CEOs. These challenges set the country apart.
India, as the World Economic Forum has said, is the driving force behind South Asia becoming the fastest-growing region in the world today. And, as the global economy starts to slow down, it falls to India to keep global growth healthy.
To do that, digital transformation is key.
The Indian digital journey
CEOs are at the heart of any company’s digital transformation — they’re the people leading from the front, and into a digital future.
I’ve seen, first hand, how the role of the CEO has changed to meet the needs of a digital age. Our recent report, Leading from the front: CEO perspectives on business transformation in the digital age, gathered the opinions of 400 CEOs from around the globe, revealing their relationships with digital transformation.
The digital CEO
What we learned from Indian CEOs was that only a little more than 20% of them have digital transformation at the top of their boardroom agendas. That doesn’t mean that for four-fifths it’s not important at all. On the contrary, the other 80% still see it as an important way to support other strategic priorities and to make operations more efficient. What it does mean, is that for one in every five CEOs, it’s the single most important aspect of their organization’s strategy – and that’s quite something.
We also discovered that while most Indian CEOs are well aware that IT infrastructure plays a critical role in their digital transformation, they’re not all confident that their organizations have the necessary IT infrastructure to support this change. In fact, only a third of Indian CEOs were entirely confident in the ability of their company’s technology infrastructure to support their digital transformation objectives.
Another concern raised was a lack of technology skills within companies, which could act as a barrier to taking advantage of digital transformation. Interestingly, this is a concern addressed by Digital India, as one of the programme’s nine pillars is IT training. India is already investing in giving current employees the skills they need to ensure that their employers can make the most of digital technology.
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Leading the way
What’s clear from our research is that CEOs around the world know how important their roles — as the people leading the way with digital transformation — are. They know enough about digital technology to know what to focus on. They know they need to work on building better infrastructure. And they’re aware that a skills shortage could be a potential barrier to any digital growth.
Here in India, where digital transformation is so important to the continuation of growth in both the domestic and global economies, that’s particularly good news.