Author: Andy Waar (LinkedIn, Twitter)


I absolutely agree with the statement that every business is already a digital business – in one way or another. The same way that new technologies influenced our society, digitization changed our economy. We have reached a stage where augmented or virtual reality start to mash up everything into an Internet of Things (IoT).

The internet will “disappear” once this technology is fully adopted. Like railroads or electricity – people will just use it as an integrated part of their daily routine. Remember the days when you dialed in with your phone modem? Remember the funny sound? This was only a few years ago and it is already gone from (older) users’ minds – it disappeared. Millennials don’t even know it, Internet for them means having Wi-Fi everywhere.

This fast progress combined with the evolving digital technologies affects our industries – it may end up in the next industrial revolution.  Some call it the Industrial revolution 4.0. We will have new jobs and functions that today we don’t even realize could exist.

So every company needs to face this inevitable digital transformation and find a way to adapt to it.



Ignoring the (r)evolution

Who does not know or has not heard some of the usual excuses (even from our leaders)?

  • It’s an IT topic, we do not need to understand those things on the business side
  • We have to restrict all those new (and dangerous) social media novelties
  • I don’t believe in artificial intelligence or robot kind of things

Digital trust already passed an invisible line that we’re not aware of – that’s a fact.  People drive into a river, just because their navigation systems tell them to do so!

Honestly: You forget your umbrella in the morning – would you go back home to get it? Probably not. Would you go back home to get the keys or badge for the office – maybe. Would you go back to get your mobile – most probably you would think about it, go back and take the next bus/train, right?

Even leaders who “block” things are already more digital than they are probably aware of.

Culture vs. strategy

Before you can setup the right strategy, the right culture needs to be in place.



A strategy is only as good as its execution, i.e. the people executing it.

According to Harvard Business Review, only 5% of employees understand their company’s strategy, making successful execution nearly impossible.

Digital talents


Although companies realize the digital skills gap and its importance, they do not invest in digital skills. The efforts of developing skills are not aligned with their digital strategy and they continue to use traditional approaches to source digital skills. Furthermore, Human Resources (HR) functions are not actively involved in the digital skills development.

77% of companies consider missing digital skills as the key hurdle to their Digital Transformation.

(Capgemini Consulting – MIT Center for Digital Business Research)

Find the right talents

  1. Define vision and identify future skill requirements
  2. Perform a skills gap analysis
    • Determine the digital proficiency and level of influence of employees by using third-party services ( and others)
    • Identify digital personae of employees (do these influencers have the necessary digital know-how to drive the vision forward?)
    • Digital skills self-assessment
  3. Develop methods to close the skills gap (in-house training or third-party training)
  4. Monitoring (measure impact of training)

It’s important to say that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Every company has different and unique requirements.

Here are some examples of best practices to close the skills gap


  1. Innovative recruitment methods (Games, Conferences, Hackatons etc.)
  2. Targeted company acquisition
  3. Partnerships
  4. Incubating for the future
  5. Training programs

Digital leadership

The internet changed everything.   We live in a paradigm change, where work and life (remember work-life balance?) come together… ON YOUR SMARTPHONE. As mentioned before, it starts here with the companies’ culture. It’s not a matter of tools.

Thorsten Dirks, CEO of Telefónica Germany (German Translation)

 If you digitize a shitty process, then you will have a shitty digital process.

The digital working environment will change – and with it the organization and the design/setup of a company:

  • Self-determination
  • Flexible hours
  • Flexible working areas (home, train, public digital meeting places with free wifi, etc.)
  • Shared, mobile and flexible work
  • Collaborative networks
  • Part-time project organizations
  • More democratic, crowdsourced ideas and decisions
  • Less physical presence in the “office” as we know it today
  • New job profiles
  • Integration into business network with private hardware
  • Flat hierarchies

Innovation pressure will increase due to transparency, lower entry barrier, fast changing competition, etc. Leaders really need to think about how they want to orchestrate their workforce. Should it be a permanent position? Or part time? Freelancer? Do they really need an office? If remote office is a valid option, should they hire in their country or abroad or both being able to cover 24/7?

What makes the difference? Did leadership really change?

My answer is a clear yes. Nowadays, in a time of social technologies, leadership is not only a question of position in a company. It is more a question of the number and quality of “followers”. Being a digital leader does not mean leading by force – it means leading by example.

How I see a digital leader:

  • (S)he understands that it’s crucial to establish the right culture
  • (S)he knows that a team can do more than a single person
  • Own skills are never sufficient to cover all angles for a successful company
  • (S)he recognizes and respects the power of the team
  • (S)he needs to share information and be transparent to build trust
  • Anything can change – at any time. (S)he also needs to be ready to change his/her own views and behaviors if needed
  • (S)he needs to stay curious, always question the status quo, challenge everything that is in place on a strategic, operational and procedural level
  • (S)he needs to forgive mistakes – they are important for the development of the right culture
  • It is fundamental to try out things – especially user journeys/experiences
  • The team does not have to sit next to each other if they have the same digital mindset
  • Each team member might have an interest in working in a comfortable working environment, therefore (s)he should listen to the others’ ideas

The digital leader needs to become the catalyst and promoter to reach a shared goal/vision, because “new” digital (talent) employee won’t stay in an environment where:

  • Processes are slow
  • Decision making is slow
  • People block new ideas
  • Trial and error is seen as a failure
  • It takes too long for a career’s next step

Other thoughts

I don’t think that there is a fundamental change in how people would like to work together. In my view the fundamental change lies in the possibility to articulate the needs.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs still exists, but the younger digital generation just redefines/articulates other needs.


Addon social media

See my article: LinkedIn Is Not Facebook! A 3 minutes read.

This article only scratches the surface of this topic and I’m aware that all rules have their exception – so please feel free to comment and share it.

Thank you very much.

Yours, Andy

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