What is digital transformation? | Interview with Nikolaos Dimitriadis

In an era of rapid changes in the economic environment, digital business transformation is a must. The fact is that the digital transformation requires more creativity and agility, but also promises businesses greater growth potential. It is necessary to think broadly and ambitiously and for this we need inspiration, ideas, monitoring trends and a lot of knowledge.

What is digital transformation from your perspective?

It’s about digital being in the very DNA of how companies decide and behave. It’s not only about hardware and software, it’s not only about business and operational plans, and definitely, it’s not about hiring few “digital experts”. Thinking, Feeling and Doing Digital naturally and effortlessly by considering the offline and the online world as ONE, both internally and externally, is the true destination for all companies. How to get there faster than competition is the real challenge. And all companies should have started digital transformation – yesterday!

How the society is facing the massive disruption of digital trends? How the society in 2020 will look like?

Society is never ready for disruptive changes! Changes wouldn’t be “disruptive” otherwise. There is a lot of confusion, a lot of fear and anger… but a lot of passion and excitement as well. Within this explosive emotional cocktail extraordinary things will happen, as they already do. What matters is how we shape our minds to embrace the change, be part of it, and win with it. This mind-set is one of optimism, relentless experimentation and constructive caution. The year 2020 is not so far away so I do not expect huge changes. But by 2030 we can have a completely different world! Do not forget: transformative changes are usually overestimated short-termly and underestimated long-termly!

Who are the Transformational Leaders?

This is the billion-dollar question! All in C-level should be Transformational Leaders. It cannot be achieved otherwise. However, although people usually look at CEOs and CTOs/CIOs for the leading role in digital transformation I strongly believe that the central role should be given to CMOs. This is because marketers have this unique outside-in position in companies. Digital is not about internal processes only as it is not about digital branding, social media and online selling only as well. It is both. But it is driven from the external world. It is the customers, the market, the start-ups, the partners, the providers, the world itself that demands for companies to become digital. Digital is not a crazy CEO pet-project that is good to have. It’s an absolute necessity for survival! Marketers should lead since they are the ones that strive to connect the external with the internal. Unfortunately, marketers are not prepared to play such a role. They are not educated, trained or traditionally placed in such a strategic and all-encompassing role. They are not ready. So, we need to urgently prepare them for meeting their true destiny!

A Brain Adaptive Leadership Approach – what are the main digital cross boundaries that leaders should integrate?

The BAL Approach, presented in our book “Neuroscience for Leaders” (KoganPage, London), was created to help managers understand and use the immense power of modern brain sciences in their everyday professional life. The success of the book shows that people in companies have recognized that a new paradigm of decision-making and action is needed. The old way of thinking in management is not just out-dated but dangerous! The model consists of four pillars: Thinking, Feeling, Brain Automations and Relations. All four are of crucial importance in digital transformation. Digital alters every aspect of our world asking from our brains to change. So we need to actively assist our brain change the way it perceives and analyses opportunities and threats (thinking), the way it reacts emotionally and manages its own mood (feeling), the habits it has to abandon and the new ones it has to develop (brain automations), and the way it interacts with other brains (relations). Early reports from the field confirm the validity of the Brain Adaptive Leadership approach in digital as well. And we are very excited about this!