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Who to follow: Dan Benson

Who to follow: Dan Benson

Digital transformation is a concept that’s close to Dan Benson’s heart. Or, at least, you would assume it was given the way he talks about it.

This makes logical sense - he’s spent more than a decade recruiting senior leaders in the digital space – so digital transformation has always been on the agenda. But, when we uttered those two magic word, a certain twinkle appeared in his eye. 

That’s right. Over the years, Dan’s developed what can only be described as a passion for digital transformation.

For someone who’s placed a number of executive-level heavyweights into a number of equally as impressive roles, he’s not what you’d expect for his level of calibre. He’s more of the down-to-earth, practical type, preferring to act more as an extension of his clients’ existing team than the guy with his hands glued to a little black book.

We caught up with Dan to talk about his favourite two words – digital transformation (but we’ve heard whispering Liverpool F.C can evoke a similar response). 

Digitalisation: A chain reaction in full force.

In the last few years we’ve seen a surplus of new technology flood the market - innovative cloud-based software and solutions; artificial intelligence, automation and blockchain technology; augmented reality and the Internet of Things. 

As a result, many organisations are currently in the process of incorporating this new technology into their internal and external service offerings.

According to Deloitte, 88% of business leaders believe that building the organisation of the future is an important issue, yet only 11% understand how to build this digital organisation.

Bringing about a digital transformation in your business is about more than having access to new technology, Dan is quick to point out. “Digital transformation takes place on a cultural level just as much as it does on a technological level.”

“You can buy all the latest new technology, but if you don’t have the organisational culture in place to support this change, your digital transformation will fall flat on its face,” he says.

“In my experience, collaborative, action-orientated organisations that prioritise their clients’ needs over their own always tend to embrace digital change a whole lot easier than the more hierarchical, siloed organisations.”

Measuring the intangible.

One of the main struggles organisations are up against during and after a digital transformation is measuring change and overall success.

“Technological and cultural change are both very intangible concepts, so it can be particularly difficult to create benchmarks for success,” says Dan. 

“To measure progress accurately, you’ll need to apply a much broader range of assessment criteria – and, while traditional metrics such as revenue, costs, and customer satisfaction are still important, new metrics need to be added to get a more accurate sense of progress.”

To help utilise this new technology, many organisations will need to restructure their existing teams and bring in new talent, says Dan.

“When hiring people to carry out newly created jobs, many organisations don’t have an adequate set of assessment skills in place to measure their ability to do the job, or their performance once they’re in the job.”

Leading the digital transformation.

A company’s culture comes from the top and trickles down, or so it is often said, so when it comes to creating a culture that supports and embraces digital change, it’s crucial that your organisation appoints the right leaders.

“Organisations in the process of undergoing a digital transformation need leaders that are comfortable navigating their way through today’s highly uncertain business landscape. They need to be agile, up for a challenge, and naturally curious about solving problems,” says Dan.  

“To motivate and influence their peers, these leaders needs to have a vision, and they need to be able to communicate that vision – essentially taking people on a journey with them.”

Despite this strong investment in innovative new ways of working, many organisations are still relying on outdated methods of talent acquisition.

“The truth is, the tech-savvy, results-driven, game-changing digital leader your organisation desperately desires to transform your culture will not be actively searching for a job – they will no doubt be happily employed and being well looked after elsewhere.”

“To identify and attract new talent, and to accurately understand what they would be like in the role, you need to take a data-driven approach to search and selection.” 

To find out more insights and trends impacting the executive search market, get in touch with Dan on +44 207 187 6156 or email Dan.Benson@morganphilips.com

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