Building Your Digital Transformation Leadership Team – As defined by leading Women in IT

The digital business landscape was already changing rapidly before the COVID-19 crisis. The emergence of the pandemic, however, has forced companies to shift into high gear. Now more than ever, having the right people, processes and technology are critical to success. An impressive panel of top female executives shared how they are meeting these new challenges at the recent ONUG Digital Live event. Paola Saibene of Quartus Fact moderated the discussion with Shannon Lietz of Intuit and Abby Kearns of Puppet. Watch their discussion here, or read the highlights below. 

Challenges Accelerate Digitalization

“Folks were on a journey, but now that’s been disrupted,” explained Leitz. Many companies were well along in their digital transformation. They were overcoming challenges and utilizing new technologies. However, now things are changing much more rapidly. Companies must learn how to sell online faster, host conferences virtually and simply be able to communicate effectively at scale. Enterprises have had to shift priorities, especially brick and mortar companies. Leitz pointed out that there’s now a market for methods of learning things rapidly. Employees must learn new skills. Equipment must have new capabilities. 

In addition to enterprise changes, employees have to change the way they work. “The adaptation route is way more extreme,” said Leitz. “You just can’t schedule enough meetings to replace the hallways discussions.” Those brief, impromptu discussions just don’t resonate in chat. The new level of digital has made for a more hectic day for many workers, and has made innovation harder. 

Kearns agreed, adding that enterprises must adapt to automation in new ways. “They must figure out how to do more with less people.” Many companies were already looking at how to upscale or rescale their workforce. COVID has accelerated that discussion and intensified needs. Companies are now tackling questions, such as “How do I get my workforce to use new tech?” They must rethink their supply chain, how they engage with customers and how they meet customer needs. 

“It’s all about execution,” said Kearns. “Everyone is in executive mode. There are lots of attempts and experimentation going on.” Saibene added that she’s heard the same from IT consultants. “Stop trying to get it perfect. Just keep moving. Keep innovating.” 

Security Needs to Accelerate Too

Leitz touched on the increased frequency of hacking schemes, and unfortunately we’ve created opportunities for people to be vulnerable by not being prepared. Hackers are taking advantage of more opportunities to use smishing  and phishing techniques. “The world is not ready to go online totally.” 

“Having a large group of employees go remote increases your risk,” explained Kearns. Most employees were simply not accustomed to working remotely, the dangers involved and how to deal with sensitive information. Companies must figure out how to educate a workforce quickly enough so that they stay proactive. “They must be well-armed in how they access and share data. They must focus on working intelligently remotely,” concluded Kearns. 

Top Tips

Saibene asked both participants to share their top tips for today’s enterprises. Here’s a summary of their thoughts.  

  • Automate: Companies must automate more. They are trying to do more with less people. It’s critical to automate routine work to free up workers, so they can focus on innovation and tasks that really contribute to digital transformation. 
  • Educate: Employees must learn to work in a totally new world. That means learning new skills, learning how to work remotely, being aware of increased security threats, as well as simply making the cultural shift to working from home. “We must learn to be proactive in the digital workplace,” said Kearns. Lietz added that education also means creating pathways for others. “We must make room for more forums. Write things down. Share. Pass along. Don’t just solve for yourself and move on. Bang your head on the wall for everyone’s benefit.”  
  • Build Collaboration: Back-to-back video conferences do not replace all the in-person conversations employees used to have. “We must replace those hallway conversations,” explained Kearns. Companies must find a way to build-in this collaboration. Again, Lietz focused on the greater good. “We must figure out how to get past the singular meetings and large forums. Innovate for the greater good. Share information across forums, industries and companies.” 
  • Have Empathy: Both participants emphasized the importance of empathizing with what everyone is going through. That includes both personally and professionally. Employees, clients, as well as industry leaders are struggling to keep up with our rapidly changing environment. 

Leverage Partners

Companies are at different levels of recovery. Now is the time to form new partnerships to help accelerate our recovery. Kearns emphasized the need for third-party providers to step up and provide the support and guidance people need to rebuild their companies. “We need partners to help make us successful.” Third-parties need to ask themselves how they can better serve enterprises. 

Leitz agreed that tons of innovation needs to happen. She added that most platforms have not fully done it yet. “It’s still really hard if I’m looking for a certain third-party that solves a specific problem. I’m pressed for time.” Third-parties must ask how their prospects are looking for capabilities. She also suggested vendors become value-added resellers. However, Leitz also pointed out that companies should be better prepared buyers. “Articulate well what you need. We must be intentional partners.” 

Leitz concluded by appealing to third-parties. This is their opportunity to solve radical problems. “We’re in a total shift. A small business revolution is coming.” 

While the pandemic has brought about many challenges, it has also forced new conversations and presented opportunities to accelerate digital transformation. 

Learn More

The unprecedented global pandemic has fundamentally altered the pace at which enterprises are implementing digital transformation strategies. ONUG is dedicated to education and sharing. In fact, Leitz praised ONUG for helping companies navigate these challenging times by providing a platform of collaboration. 

Sign up for the ONUG Fall 2020 Conference, or learn more about ONUG and Women in IT by contacting us here.

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