Digital Leadership with Passion and Compassion

There is technology in almost every aspect of our lives and that includes for work and business. In fact, the rate of technology adoption in businesses is to the point that established organisations find themselves heavily disrupted by start-ups that utilise digital technology with success.

 

For example, in the telecommunications industry, traditional telco players find their revenues for voice and SMS being eaten away by players like Whatsapp. To add salt to wound, Whatsapp does not play by the rules of the telco business.

 

And yet, they are able to offer what a telco offers, because of how they take advantage of digital technologies.

 

In this age of digital technologies and digital disruptions, how does a leader successfully navigate technology and threats like Whatsapp?

 

During a digital leadership programme workshop, 7C Life founder, Dr. Sekar Jaganathan, shared his experience, insights and opinions, as a digital leader himself.

 

Below is my report of what he shared with the audience.

 

DIGITAL DISRUPTION AND DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

Dr. Sekar cautioned that disruption can also come from the people that use your product.

 

Contrary to popular belief that technology always drives change, it is actually the customer and their behaviours that drive change in an industry.

 

He gave the example of a US-based company that produced nails. Due to the introduction of the nail gun, and the dramatic increase in people who bought nail guns instead of conventional nails and hammer, this company found itself in danger of being irrelevant.

 

There was a large enough mass of people changing how they use nails, for the company to decide to change how they designed their nails, and even eventually produce nail guns themselves.

 

But, how did the company know when to make the shift? How does any organisation for that matter, know when it needs to adjust it’s business model?

 

ANALYTICS FOR TIMELY INSIGHTS, TIMELY ACTIONS

As a digital strategist, Dr. Sekar advocates the use of analytics and ensuring that everyone in the organisation is aware of the impact of their actions every day.

 

He said, “A digital leader must understand that emotions play the biggest role when it comes to customers and the staff.

 

“He or she must ensure the whole organisation understands that the customer is the only person that they serve.”

 

For example, businesses should not design products and services based on what they want to offer the customer. Business leaders need to think from outside and turn inwards, which is identify the problems potential customers are facing, and solve that problem with products and services.

 

Dr. Sekar also opined that there has to be a mindset shift from being operational-oriented to being service-oriented. All touchpoints with the customer also must be identified and enhanced, if possible, with digital technologies like analytics.

 

In fact, measurements of customer engagements like customer acquisitions, new services subscribed to, and other customer metrics, should be sent to all employees at the end of every work day.

 

This way, they understand the role that they play, and see that what they do has an impact upon the customer. A sense of purpose and teamwork starts to form and everyone can more easily transition into a service-oriented mindset.

 

DIGITAL FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

Digital can help with precision in customer service.

 

For example, the right marketing message can go to the right audience at the right time. So this way, the speed of marketing increases.

 

The customer experience also improves because the audience can feel the personal touch that comes with a message that is tailored especially for them.

 

In fact, there is a local healthcare example of the use of digital to improve patient care, and win loyal customers at the same time.

 

Sunway Medical Centre had made a conscious decision to increase patient care, and make patient care at the centre of everything they do.

 

This included changing their workflow processes so that the customer spends less time waiting to receive patient care.

 

Thoughtful actions like starting the care process immediately with just a swipe of credit card, made a lot of difference. Patient care came before registration of the patient and this made them happy.

 

Dr. Sekar pointed out, “The hospital takes care of you first, before they start running administration.”

 

When a patient is about to be discharged, they do not need to move from the ward room till the final hospital fee is confirmed with their insurance company. During that time, the pharmacist would also deliver to the room, their prescribed medication.

 

In this example, the medical centre utilised technology to change their process flow in a way that emphasises convenience and care for the patient.

 

TRANSFORMATION FOR GROWTH

Operational efficiency and cost cutting in the long run, may be the main objective behind the digital transformation that any organisation undergoes.

 

Dr. Sekar has a different take on things, however.

 

“The organisation may become leaner, and you sustain the business so that it keeps operating. But you are not sustaining the business to grow.

 

“You can change the IT systems, but also always think that your people can change (along with it). So, reskilling and upskilling your people should be a part of your digital transformation journey.”

 

This digital leader concluded by saying,”Be passionate about your customers, but also compassionate when it comes to your employees.

 

“Otherwise, you are still going to fail as a digital leader even though your business is fully automated.”

 

He drives home the point, that people should be the main reason to embark upon any transformation journey. During this era of everything becoming technology-enabled and/or augmented by digital, it becomes especially important to not lose sight of that.

Catherine Yong

Catherine Yong is the Head of Publications at 7C Life RealiZation Centre (http://www.7clife.org) an organisation that is aimed at teaching people to achieve clarity of mind and live successful lives by practising mindfulness.