The Enlightened CEO

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At Crossfuze, we kick off each year with a summit called Crossfuze Way. It’s a chance for employees and leaders to come together, celebrate our successes and look ahead to the new year. We feature keynote speakers, provide content on the direction of the company, and offer guidance on self-care and work-life balance.

This year, we invited Salim Ismail, the Founding Executive Director of Singularity University and best-selling author of Exponential Organizations to deliver our capstone keynote address. He spoke on the exponential way the world has changed – especially in this past year. And how individuals can’t wrap their heads around the exponential growth.

As a CEO, I agree. The world we’re living in today was inevitable. In 2017, Stephanie Stone, CIO at M+W Group, wrote, “Every company is a technology company, no matter what product or service it provides. The companies that embrace this fact are the ones that shape our world.” The pandemic only accelerated the drive to digital transformation.

Ismail’s keynote revolved around the same theme - the world has changed and continues to change more rapidly than before. While disruptions of this magnitude were impossible to predict and incredibly difficult to process, I see them as opportunities to make our organizations more efficient and effective.

Today, regardless of the business, CEOs must focus on how their technology is making progress against KPIs and get to the point where the technology delivers value to the business. They must evolve and transform the business model from the traditional business into a technology business. For most leaders, rethinking how we make money is a big pill to swallow. It involves every process. Including how we evaluate our organizations.

According to McKinsey, exponential growth forces CEOs to evaluate their business using five KPIs that were never on a CEO’s radar. They are:

  1. Return on digital investment.
  2. Percentage of annual technology budget spent on bold digital initiatives.
  3. Time to market for digital apps.
  4. Percentage of leaders’ incentives linked to digital.
  5. Total top technical talent attracted, promoted and retained.

When you look around, you see evidence of these KPIs in successful businesses everywhere. Take Amazon, for instance.

Jeff Bezos started Amazon as a small online bookstore that operated out of his garage in the early 1990s. Thirty years later, Amazon is a retailer that offers every kind of good and service imaginable, as well as web services, groceries and more. Because Bezos focused on the technology needed to sell his books, instead of the books themselves, Amazon grew into the e-commerce giant that exists today.

Companies like Shopify and Walmart are following Amazon’s lead and have also embraced their roles as technology businesses.

COVID is also forcing more traditional businesses to transform too. Take medicine, for example. The pandemic forced insurance companies to embrace telemedicine. Meanwhile, our watches and phones can monitor heart rate and blood pressure and report the results to our doctors.

Modern manufacturing uses smart technology and edge computing to connect sensors, machinery, robotics and people to drive productivity. Banking and insurance will continue to evolve as they optimize web and mobile services to improve the customer experience.

Embracing your role as a technology company will also determine how you recruit and retain talent. Successful companies look beyond individuals who are competent in completing a task to individuals who want to learn and grow in their careers. And while digital transformation makes some jobs obsolete, the right employee development model assures that employees do more meaningful work, have higher job satisfaction and are more productive.

The more innovative models resulting from digital transformation are not easy to adopt. As Salim Ismail pointed out in our keynote, it’s impossible to process the changes as rapidly as they’re happening today. But, technology isn’t slowing down for anybody. If you don’t like it, too bad buttercup, get over it.

Incumbents who continue to say, “no not us,” will be left behind as enlightened CEOs look at the five McKinsey points and say, “I’ve gotta go there because I’ll create advantage for my company.” And once they accept that they’re in the technology business, their business can adapt and become anything they want it to be.

How is your company embracing technology? What are you seeing in your industry? What steps are you taking to ensure you don’t get left behind?

I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers,

Chris

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