Digitalization calls for a new leadership

A company in the digital era needs to leverage leadership that is more than ever focused on customer value and experience. Those who do not embrace this change will not survive in the long run, according to Anna Granö, Managing Director of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Sweden.

Director for Enterprise Group Sweden and Managing Director for Hewlett Packard Enterprise Sweden

Digitalization is not new. We have been digitalizing our business and society for a long time. What is new though and what is fuelling the rapid change we witness today is the new types of data that is available in a world where everyone and everything is connected. Data has become the most important business critical asset of today.

We see new disruptive digital user experiences and business outcomes being developed leveraging data and a new combination of technology, business process re-engineering and new business models. It is the journey required for a company to create these digital user experiences that we call digital transformation, a topic which is on top of every CxO’s agenda regardless of industry. Why? Because it is better to disrupt than to be disrupted. In order for a company not to be disrupted, it needs to leverage leadership that is more than ever focused on customer value and experience, Anna Granö concludes.

The winners put the customer first

In the last few years. Anna Granö has lead the Swedish organization through a major change with the objective to adapt to the digital era. Three key design criteria of that change have been customer first, simplification and focus.

  • The winners in the digital era are those who are able to put the customer needs first and find ways to simplify and focus their business, Anna Granö says.

Anna Granö concludes that more than ever, the development of new products and services needs to be built on customer value and exceptional user experience. In that way, digitalization will highlight the importance of quality work.

  • For me, quality means to develop products and services in an efficient and sustainable way that bring business value and use for the end-customer. In today’s rapidly changing market, companies that want to succeed must embrace a more iterative development process with a focus on the end-customer needs and desires in partnership with several other companies.

Combine speed with flexibility

The rapid technical development has made it clear that companies need to be able to combine speed with flexibility and the ability to keep focus on the goal. Solutions that appears impossible today, may be realized in six months. In that way new e-services need to be developed in a way that makes room for change. And the courage to put prototypes to the test.

  • You must have the courage to fail in order to deliver a product or a service that is relevant and useful for the customer. Aim for the customer’s needs and desires, make prototypes and use the feedback to develop, Anna Granö

The transformation that HPE has gone through the last two years has resulted in a smaller, more focused, value driven organisation. The company has very bravely spun of areas of the business that did not align with the core business and acquired small companies to further strengthen the new focused strategy.

Today HPE continues to be one of the leading technology companies globally focused on making Hybrid IT simple and enabling the Intelligent Edge. In brief, HPE provides a seamless and open platform that enable their customers to build digital services and move data and applications from the Edge to Cloud (on or off premise). One of the core values in this transformation has been partnership.

  • In the digital era you need to be agile, you need an organisation that can move faster and most importantly, you cannot do everything by yourself.

Building ecosystems of partnership

Instead of giant organisations Anna Granö explains that we need to build ecosystems where we work in partnership with suppliers, developers and innovative startups that have the solutions to our business challenges.

With a stronger focus on partnership comes also a need for openness and transparency. To cooperate in an effective way, the partners must be open in the way they work and the challenges they face.

  • You need to be able to talk about your problems, to ask for help and invite others in your work in order to be successful. To be open with your problems is not a weakness. In my point of view, not to be transparent will become your weakness in the digital era.

Focus on the customer, transparency and partnership – all this calls for a new leadership, grounded in values and culture.

  • In a time where change is the only constant, there is a need for a different leadership. As a leader I cannot tell exactly what the road ahead will look like. I can however explain to everyone what our strategy and our role in the market is. The combination of the joint vision and our corporate culture is the compass that enables us to jointly create business value together with our customers and partners.

Evolution that concerns everyone

Anna Granö believes that a value-driven leadership that focus on business value and customer experience is important in times of rapid change. When employees know the purpose of the company and in what way they are able to meet the customer needs, they can take a more active part in the business transformation.

Anna Granö points to the fact that digitalization is an evolution that concerns everyone, every business and workplace.

  • Digitalization is a leadership challenge. Those who do not realize that they must change will not survive, Anna Granö points out.

Five leadership advice in the digital era

  1. Focus on the customer. Develop new e-services in an iterative process with focus on the customer needs and desires.

  2. Simplify and focus your business. In the digital era speed and agility is key.

  3. Build culture. Make sure that the employees know the company values and in what way they shall meet the customer needs. Have an open communication, encourage failure and embrace diversity. Ensure your leaders lead by example.

  4. Encourage cooperation, both inside and outside the company. Rapid change, new technology and business opportunities makes it impossible to do everything by oneself. Encourage teamwork and be open for new relationships and partnerships outside the company.

  5. Expect transparency. Do not be afraid to be open and transparent with your work. Ask for help, talk about your challenges and invite others to take part.

Click here to read more about Anna Granö and her session at Excellence Summit