‘Don’t get bogged down by the details of the technology’
In a global business landscape shaped by disruptive technologies, there are no easy solutions for leaders when it comes to digital transformation. Digital innovation expert Lenka Pincot believes that leaders should adopt a strategic view on digitalization to create and amplify business growth.
“The focus of digitalization now is not so much about the details of technology itself,” she said. “For instance, a decade ago, many businesses had to decide whether to develop fully customized digital platforms on their own or to accept the limitations of an off-the-shelf solution. Today, where there is an array of tools and platforms that can help facilitate any digitalization for businesses, companies might now invest their energy in tackling strategic issues instead of just focusing on developing their digital solutions internally.”
Pincot believes that a change of mindset is needed for executives to lead their organizations to continued success. “Leaders need to start by understanding the disruptive potential of technology and then think about how it can change the business landscape to maintain market leadership in the industry,” she explained.
Driving organizational transformation
With a career spanning over two decades, Pincot has earned her wings as a change management thought leader with a knack for balancing vision and execution. Currently the Chief of Staff to the CEO of the Project Management Institute, a global not-for-profit organization, she started her career in management consulting but carved out a niche in driving successful change initiatives in organizations across myriad industries.
Many of the organizational transformations she had spearheaded leveraged the use of digital technologies to change business processes and often involved an agile way of working applied for digital product development which became a focus area later in her career.
In 2019, she led a major agile transformation initiative at Česká spořitelna, one of the largest homegrown banks in the Czech Republic. She also successfully implemented agile approaches in international banks such as mBank, the first Internet bank in Poland, and Raiffeisenbank Česká republika, part of the Austrian banking group.
Notably, Pincot’sstint in the financial services sector, where traditional banking business models have been severely disrupted by accelerating technological advancements, forced her to think hard about the future challenges and opportunities of businesses.
“Throughout my career, I have been working in the intersection of business and information technologies,” she said. “I felt like I needed to refresh and update my knowledge of the current state of digital transformation as well as the latest technologies.”
A journey to digital excellence
In September 2020, Pincot, who has a master’s degree in computer sciences from Charles University in Prague, took up IMD’s Digital Excellence Diploma, a program that focuses on digital transformation strategy and its execution for business leaders. The diploma, which has a fully customizable curriculum, not only offered her flexible learning options but also suited her busy schedule as participants have to complete 15 credits and pass an exam.
A key learning from the digital excellence program, she shared, was understanding how to leverage data for business innovation and drive more effective data-driven transformation.
“In the Digital Strategy, Analytics, and AI program taught by Professor of AI, Analytics, and Marketing Strategy Amit Joshi, we learned the intricacies of harnessing data analytics to drive innovation and business success. This includes studying the classification of various types of data and knowing the differences in data analysis including predictive, prescriptive, and descriptive analysis. This knowledge helped me to make more informed decisions at work, and is also particularly useful for data-driven companies.”
Another valuable takeaway from the program came from TransformTECH, a module that focuses on the business applications of emerging technologies. The course sharpened her focus on how to effectively harness transformational technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence, and robotics to build and sustain long-term business value.
“A highlight of my experience was a visit to the campus of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EFPL), which IMD is partnering with for the program. It was there that we got to see AI technologies in action, and it was an eye-opener. There was also the innovation framework that we picked up in this module, which is highly relevant to my organizational transformation work at the PMI,” she said.
“In all, the knowledge gained from the program not only helps me personally, but I hope that, through my job, it also indirectly benefits the PMI global community of project professionals who tackle digital transformations in their companies.”
Digitally driven leadership
For Pincot, her IMD experience also reaffirmed her view of leadership imperative to success in the current age of disruptive technologies. As businesses become increasingly digital, leaders have to look at unifying business and technology strategies to create a roadmap for business growth.
“Seeing the connection between technological disruption and how it impacts strategy reaffirmed what should have been the focus of my role, which is, not to get bogged down by the details of the technology but to explore its strategic impact on the future of the businesses and industries.”
In her opinion, C-suite and business leaders need to push the envelope and reimagine the role of technology to unlock new opportunities for growth. “It’s about learning how to combine different technologies to leverage them. They’re like Lego blocks that you need to put together,” she explained. “After you understand their strategic potential, you need to ask yourself: how can you elevate your company and teams in a way that will allow them to work with the technology on hand and realize the vision of the executive team?”
Her advice to leaders who are faced with the colossal challenge of catalyzing growth in the age of disruption? “Embrace its risks and uncertainty,” she said. “Think of it as an amazing opportunity to learn and innovate. Not just for the industry advancement itself. Put first the purpose of your job that creates sustainable impact for your customers and employees.”
She added that a proactive leadership mindset is also crucial to success. “We hear of leaders who would rather adopt a wait-and-see approach before deciding whether a new technological development is a hype or a trend,” she said.
“My advice on this: don’t wait too long,” she said. “Take this time to explore the emerging technologies and understand them better. Carry out experiments and assess whether the technology will be able to provide the breakthrough you’re looking for.”