Strategy Leadership Summit – Accelerating Digital Leadership.

Jack Reinelt, President of the Americas
31 March 2021

It was an exciting day at this year’s MarketsandMarkets™ Strategy Leadership Virtual Summit! Somo was the leading partner of this C-level, cross-industry event which took place last week. Eight powerful discussions, all focusing on how to model strategies for business growth in the new norm. Ross Sleight, our Chief Strategy Officer, presented his view on  ‘Accelerating Digital Leadership’, revealing dramatic changes occurring now in the e-commerce industry, sharing insights from our recent white paper and highlighting the important role of cultural transformation in creating digital success and shaping strong digital product leaders.

Here are key takeaways from this discussion:

The digital imperative

Ross opened the discussion by reflecting on the fundamental set of changes that occurred in the business world in the past 12 months. In the US alone, while the pandemic had negatively impacted specific industries like travel and hospitality, it had a surprisingly positive effect on the rise of other sectors – like e-commerce. 2020 saw a massive growth of e-commerce in the US versus total retail sales growth, with Walmart being one example of that; increasing their online sales from 6% in Q1, 2020 and projecting to reach over 11% by the end of Q1 this year.

E-Comm Growth

From digital transformation, to acute disruptions, to the new normal

During the physical lockdowns of the pandemic, we were not surprised to see a substantial rise in e-commerce sales, but there was also a belief that people may return to their old ways when circumstances have improved. In a recent study conducted by Accenture on infrequent e-shoppers, they found a 13% growth (projected to reach 15%) in online purchases, which emphasizes the realization that this newly adopted digital behavior is here to stay. 

Ross puts this recent e-comm change further into perspective by sharing a global view of the average digital share of consumer interactions from McKinsey and Company; the data below reflects a 65% increase in US consumer digital adoption during the crisis, and in turn confirms a 3-year acceleration in online purchases growth.

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of this over a three-year period, so we've basically gone three years forward into the future, in the last year.

Digital Acceleration

Five key digital priorities for a successful evolution

Because of these significant changes we have experienced in the business and e-commerce world, our experts at Somo spent a lot of time digesting the business implications of the pandemic and conducting an in-depth analysis of the new normal. You can access our white paper findings here for free. Basing on our findings, Ross has shared the five crucial points for strategic digital development in 2021 and beyond, including:

  • Increasing resilience through digital scale

  • Replicating physical journeys in digital

  • Automating to create efficiencies

  • Embracing a new operating model for work

  • Digital innovation to create new revenue streams

One of the most important things coming out of these five areas in our white paper is to understand that digital transformation is not just about technology. Technology is a facilitator, it's merely an enabler.

Digital leadership = cultural transformation

Out of all our client projects and extensive research we did on the topic, agility, pace and validation kept coming up as core initiatives, and have proven to be the driving force of strategic leadership, particularly within digital. These three initiatives are all culturally based and facilitated by technology – but not predicated by technology.

We came to the conclusion that Digital Leadership is not just about the technology changes that need to happen. It’s not just about the process changes that need to happen. It is about cultural transformation.

Strong digital product leaders

A digital product leader is a synthesis of generating business value, providing customer value, and tapping into the value of technological opportunity. Strong digital product leaders act as mini-CEOs of their product and create success by working under the three main principles of agility, pace, and validation.

Strong Digital Product Leader

The agile methodology was never just about a better software development process, it’s about embracing and achieving customer-centricity through changing our work culture and becoming more connected to human needs.

To be successful digital leaders in the ‘new normal’, we need to truly enable cultural transformation in our organizations – starting within the digital and product teams, and filtering out into the rest of the business.

Digital leadership really is about the cultural transformation within an organization. For digital innovation to be successful in the new normal, you’ll need to be able to change the culture.

You can download our digital priorities white paper here.