One would expect “Digital” to be a dominant topic at a marketing or IT conference, but the amount of commentary around the impact of digital on all aspects of business at the recent C-Suite leadership summit was both surprising and quite compelling. The C-Suite Network is comprised of C-level business executives and focuses on sharing growth, development and networking opportunities. At this year’s summit it was clear that digital is a driver of all three. From subjects like the world financial markets to latest trends in business transformation to finding and keeping top talent, digital was a central theme of a majority of keynote and panel sessions.
How digital, and the data it provides, has permeated almost every aspect of business becomes clearer when, as McKinsey & Co noted in their article “What Digital Really Means,” digital is less a thing than it is a way of doing things. Regardless of whether your business uses it for customer engagement, R&D, or to align communications, computing, power and security into a single unified infrastructure, digital is exponentially shaping how business is conducted today.
Over the past several years I’ve had the opportunity to attend several C-Suite Network Conferences and this year’s event, held September 12-13 at the Times Center in New York, left me with an array of digital-oriented insights and actionable takeaways to bring back to my team. My top three nuggets are the ones I believe we all can apply to our specific disciplines and businesses.
Digital #1: The fourth industrial revolution
During the panel discussion on corporate financing and it’s changing landscape, David Fergusson, President & Co-CEO, M&A Advisor, commented on the primary factors impacting short and long term growth. In addition to (the somewhat chilling) increasing requirements of cybersecurity, Mr. Fergusson pointed to the World Economic Forum’s declaration of Digital as the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a road map to understand the magnitude of where our digital economy is headed.
Digital #2: Transformation by design
Sudhir Kulkarni, President of Digital, Persistent Systems, recommends companies, from SMBs to enterprise-level, purposefully engineer themselves to be software-driven businesses in order to better control marketplace dynamics. To do so, Mr. Kulkarni countered the conventional wisdom to start with “why.” Rather, focus on the “how” of digital by converging all aspects of your digital ecosystem, from tech stack to UX, into a transformative growth strategy.
Digital #3: Everything will be “as-a-service”
Throughout the programming, the single most talked-about digital topic was Artificial Intelligence (AI). And if we used the speaker line-up as an impromptu focus group, then the key findings are crystal clear: AI is real, it’s being applied in ever-expanding application, and we all need to get on board. The general consensus was that cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is driving demand for greater levels of personalized digital functionality — far beyond what our smart devices currently offer, but not too far ahead of what technology is currently capable of delivering.
In closing, I think C-Suite Network Chairman Jeffrey Hayzlett states it very well on why connecting with professionally adjacent peers is as important as building strong networks amongst like practitioners. “Because we know it’s not about being the smartest person in the room, it’s about being the most strategic.”
Yep. And coming away with the a big picture take on “digital” as more than just marketing and IT speak, made attending the summit well worth the investment. I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation at the November C-Suite Conference in San Francisco!