Six things you need to know about leading digital change

As someone who has been interested in computing and technology since I was a teenager (in the days when a teenager interested in technology was so not cool), I cannot imagine living in a more exciting time as the world makes a tectonic shift towards digital.

I’ve been leading change for many years, but leading digital change and helping a bank transform itself into a digital and social culture are things I’m very passionate about, particularly given my role, my interest in leadership and change, and of course, my inner geek.

"I have regular reverse-mentoring sessions with digital natives in my team to talk emerging trends, customer behaviour and digital disruption."
Pam Rebecca, General Manager Digital, ANZ

Here’s some key things I’ve learned and practiced.

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Digital is not a spectator sport

I believe if you are in an industry facing disruption (is there an industry that isn’t?), then it is difficult to credibly lead digital change without personally embracing and living a digital life.

As well as inspiring and encouraging your team and peers, how else can you truly understand the shifts in customer behaviour and expectations upending the landscape of businesses across all industries and geographies?

For me, this means I always have the latest devices (any excuse for that upgrade – and yes, I do have a new iPhone 6), productivity apps, apps from my favourite brands, and apps for everything  - some more useful than others. 

I shop online and self-serve for just about everything (all in the name of research) and am active across multiple social media networks. (Oh, and I do have a favourite app – ANZ goMoney of course – thanks for asking!).

Listen and learn from the digital natives

As you would expect with my role, I work hard to stay up to date with the rapid changes in the digital world. However, while I am a very well assimilated digital immigrant, the world is moving so fast, and not all of us experience it the same way.

I’m a great believer that you can never stop learning, and I have regular reverse mentoring sessions with digital natives in my team to talk emerging trends, customer behaviour and digital disruption.

I also have two teenage daughters who as well as making it very clear to me how little I actually know, also educate me in the world of tumblrSnapchat etc.

These conversations have been critical in helping me understand how digital natives engage and expect to engage with brands.

We also listen to our digital native customers. How they think about banking and all the relationships they have with companies is fundamentally different to any other similar customer segment that has come before them.

Ask yourself – do you understand how the new generation of your customers think about their relationship with you? Have you asked them?

Encourage participation

Make it easy and safe for your team to learn. Let them see you learn and experiment and get assistance.

The digital natives in your company would love you to ask them to help and those who are less digitally savvy are much more likely to try if you provide a safe, supportive learning environment. 

Take the plunge into social media. This is not optional.

Sign up and participate but remember: it’s ok to just listen for a while. This was my approach to Twitter, and, while I’m very active now, I certainly didn’t start that way.

For some time I just listened. It took me a little while to understand, then to appreciate, then to experiment, and only then to embrace it.

One of the things that held me back was feeling I couldn’t keep up with it – it felt like a fire hose of content overwhelming me and I wasn’t sure how to make sense of it. And then I started thinking of it as like the radio. When I get in the car in the morning I listen to the radio. I go to work and get back in the car in the evening and listen to the radio again (I know – boring). And during the day, I don’t worry about what the radio’s doing when I’m not listening.  With Twitter, you dip in and out of the live stream, and take in and engage in only the content you can and that interests you. Forget the rest.  

Do some disrupting

Understand how digital is disrupting business models by getting on the bandwagon. Here are some activities to get you started and thinking about how disruption might affect you:

  • If you only read paper books, get the Kindle app and instantly download a book you’ve always wanted to read. Get the app on your phone as well as tablet and watch the book synch to the last page you were reading across devices.
  • Download the Red Laser app and use it to scan barcodes in a store and check out reviews and prices of stores around you.
  • If Uber operates in your city, download the Uber app and book a car. You can use the same app seamlessly in the US where it is integrated into Google Maps.
  • Next time you are travelling, find your accommodation through Wotif, Expedia or Trip Advisor.

Transparency and open conversations

A hallmark of the social media age is transparency. Make this a reality in your business. Ask your digital natives to lead the conversation about how they experience your business and its culture and how they think you need to change to survive and thrive.

Transforming your business in a digital world is not for the faint hearted. You need to embrace the shift, educate yourself, engage your team, and your customers, and get moving.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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