One Challenge Private Equity Doesn’t Think About – Digital Presence

Private equity firms face plenty of challenges but the one challenge that they don’t think about is credibility in the digital domain and a good Digital Transformation will take care of that. Before you acquire a company you may have to convince the owner or owners that you are the right fit for them. It’s their business – they want to be sure you’re going to take them further than they can get on their own, and if they give up their majority – the confidence their share is going to be worth far more when you are done. Private Equity needs a Digital Transformation.

Confidence comes from walking the talk. Would you trust a tailor to dress you if he was wearing a suit from the 70’s? I sure hope you answered, no! Now, carry this line of thinking through to your digital presence. If you were betting your future on a firm bringing you to the next level, they better look like they came from the next level. Private equity firms need to seriously consider their digital presence, and in fact, the principals need to think about their personal brands as thought leaders – welcome to Leadership Casting. You may not know it, but you could be one Google search away from having your reputation, even career destroyed. What is that question, that keyword phrase that can cause you to experience that kind of potential negative result? It’s your name.

You start to do with business with someone you have never met before – what do you do? That’s right – you Google them. Today, people expect you to come to the table with a reputation both offline and online. And this is what Leadership Casting is all about. What are you going to find when you Google your name? Is it going to be thoughtful insights into your industry, life, some compelling information about you – or is it going to be you wearing a beer cap at the ball game or, even worse, something totally NSFW (what were you thinking when you posted those pictures?)

Leadership Casting is an exciting part of the entire Digital Transformation package as it is the solution for super-charging your online persona – or brand. Most of us know that all the major companies now monitor the Web and social media for every and any remark about them – and immediately move in to squash any potential negative comments or posts. Leadership Casting, though it employs some of the tools of the social media brand manager, focuses on showing the world you are a thought leader, and builds a positive presence for you online.

Every private equity firm should be lining up right now to get on to this. Building a brand online – promoting the rock stars in your company as thought leaders, making sure your digital presence is compelling. This is what builds your firm’s credibility. Today’s digital world wants to know about you, what you think, what you stand for as well as how good you look in a beer hat. Knowledge is power is the old saying – well today that has been turned upside down – managing the knowledge about you is power.

Want to convince your next acquisition your firm is the right partner? Think about a Digital Transformation – and start with Leadership Casting.

Success in the Digital Age Requires Extraordinary Retail Leaders

Retail leaders in the digital age

Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal 1. But how can retailers lead and influence their staff during this digital disruption? Maybe it’s time to challenge retail leadership says Ken Silay, Partner, Innovator’s Equation. Ken suggests writing for Innovative Retail Technologies that “The truth is retail is run by old thinking and old metrics” and “difference between the old and new thinking in business creates a gap in retail leadership that will continue to get wider”.

Dr Ganesh Shermon, Managing Partner for “R for C Talent Management Solutions” (North America) recently highlighted the challenges retailers face. He said that retailers are confronted with dramatic managerial changes, given the convergence of the human mind, (Intellect), behavioral psychology (Cognitive), smart machines, and deep learning science and knowledge (Neural networks) as the basis for management actions. That’s really a mouth full!

The truth is that the old way of leading a retail business does not work anymore. But what should retailers do to get their businesses on par with the digital age?

Strategies that leaders should consider in the Digital Age

Prof Kamal Kishor Jain, Head of HR and Business Psychology Department at IIM Indore, recently said digital age leaders need to acknowledge the limits of their expertise. Additionally, the leaders should build a reliable network of knowledgeable experts to help them navigate through their choices. Prof Jain suggests the following:

Speed – is the most distinguishing characteristic of the digital age. No matter how fast you are moving to transform your business; the depressing reality is that you still probably aren’t moving fast enough.

Knowledge creation – we need to become more right brained to compete and survive. Leadership is not a noun, it’s a verb. The real charismatic leader is one who disseminates knowledge into his subordinates.

Primarily leadership qualities – leaders should be daring, caring and sharing. ‘Failing fast’ and ‘falling forward’ are critical precursors to success in the digital era. Such disruptive change requires leaders to be caring about people are affected by such changes. It is only by caring that a leader can elicit support from followers.

The Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an initiative of IMD business school and Cisco, and HR consultancy metaBeratung, have identified four competencies (HAVE) that business leaders need in order to excel in the era of digital disruption:

Humble – in an age of rapid change, knowing what you don’t know can be as valuable in a business context as knowing what you do. Therefore, digital leaders need a measure of humility, and a willingness to seek diverse inputs both from within and outside their organisations.

Adaptable – in a complex and changing environment, an ability to adapt is critical. The global reach of digital technologies has opened up new frontiers for organizations, shrinking once insurmountable continental divides and erasing traditional boundaries between territories. Dealing with the cultural and business impacts of this requires adaptability.

Visionary – in times of profound disruption, clear-eyed and rational direction finding is needed. Therefore a clear vision, even in the absence of detailed plans, is a core competency for digital leaders.

Engaged – painting visions for the future, successfully communicating these visions and being adaptable enough to change them, requires constant engagement with stakeholders. This broad-based desire to explore, discover, learn and discuss with others is as much a mind-set, as it is a definable set of business-focused activities or behaviors.

How can leaders change their retail business to digital?

It is impossible for retailers to change overnight from doing their things the old way to embracing the digital economy. Indeed, the process must get started and in quick time. Therefore, the ability to digitally re-imagine the business is determined in large part by a clear digital strategy supported by leaders who foster a culture able to change and invent the new 3. Kane et al proposed the following strategies for retailers to use getting their business to the digital age:

Create a strategy that transforms – when developing a more advanced digital strategy; the best approach may be to turn the traditional strategy development process on its head.

Get the right people for job – just as important as developing talent is reducing the risk of losing it.

Take risks – to boost risk taking in their companies, executives need to change their mind-sets.

Sparking new ideas – many new ideas arise through collaborative efforts among people of different backgrounds.

Telling the story – storytelling is becoming a popular means of gaining employee buy-in and organizational traction for digital transformation.

After all, it will probably require an extraordinary retail leaders to facilitate the move of their businesses from analogue to digital.