Who carries out the digitalization?

Who carries out the digitalization?

Digitization is now an increasingly central topic in the business world. We often talk about the benefits it bring along, the impact it generates, about business models based on digitization. But we do not talk about who carry out the digitization? Who are those who put into practice what is decided at the strategic level of leadership? How do the leaders supporting digitization "look like"?

1. Generation Y brings potential opportunities


According to the Brookings Governance Studies Report, as of 2025, Generation Y (consisting of those born between 1982 to 1993) will represent 75% of the global workforce. Known as the generation of digital natives, these individuals have an advanced utilization of online and digital technologies.


The demographic forecast for 2025 identifies this generation as the main resource for workforce. In this regard a study by the World Economic Forum shows that for the generation of digital natives three things matter most when choosing their employer: career advancement (48%), corporate culture (38%) and opportunities for training / personal development (32% ). People from Gen Y get informed about all the issues and exclude from their career choice companies that have a low rating or poor reviews.


2. The impact of digital illiterate leaders


Talent recruitment and digital development strategies need management’s buy in. There are very few companies that have a well-articulated digital strategy. One reason is the fact that companies do no have digital litterate board members.


The headhunting company Russell Reynolds conducted a research on a sample of 300 companies in the US, Europe and Asia and found that 72% of the board of Directors have no digital skills whatsoever. This result could lead us to the idea that we are dealing with a management team with conservative approaches.


The study The digital advantage: How Their digital leaders outperform industry peers in every industry conducted by consultancy Capgemini technology management teams show that this type of management teams support caution and not innovation.


The conservative management understands the need of a strong unifying vision, of a robust corporate governance and culture, which should guarantee that investment management is well done. Top managers of such companies are skeptical about the added-value of new digital trends and the caution approach against spending leads to missed opportunities for the benefit of competition.


Given those two indicators (EBIT and net profit margin), the profitability for digital conservative companies is only 9% compared to 26% for companies with management commited to digital transformation.


3. Attract and retain digital natives


According to Robert Hohman, CEO of Glassdoor.com attraction and retention of digital natives should begin by listening to these employees. Companies can integrate what they express both within the organization and on social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Since these are the channels where most digital natives meet any recommendations made by employees to others of the same generation can count on employment decision.


It would be good for companies to make a priority from the selection of digital natives and become their employer of choice. Specifically, to this end, companies may use the following tactics:

1.     Identify the departments that best fit the skills of digital natives and integrate them in these departments

2.     Stimulate their professional development and to empower them

3.     Build physical virtual workspaces customized to digital natives

4.     Adopt tools which facilitate the exchange of information and knowledge transfer


The selection of digital talent should take into account the hierarchal levels and their distribution within the entire company. Only in this way the change effect will be significant and the results will appear.


72% of the companies which do not have digital litterate board members would better find and include such a person. Otherwise, the conservative management and excessive caution could lead to opportunity cost and loss of competitive advantage.


Two possible solutions to generate this change are: 1. organizing workshops for the initiation in technology of management levels and 2. creating a group of consultants in technology for management team.


Real architects of the organization, leaders can contribute to building a digital culture within companies by: communicating on the same channels as digital natives do, organizing open sessions and hackathons, visual management of processes and progress of ongoing projects, design digital scales for performance evaluation of each project.