bridging the gap between leaders and technologists

Brian Armstrong is the founder of Coinbase, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange valued at $16bn (as of publishing). A world-class digital leader. It took him two years of experimenting with customers before he found a successful market-winning concept. He did it with a $150,000 investment. How many leaders of existing financial services businesses would have given him that runway to test experiments and finally find product/market fit, if it was an internal project?

Business Leaders Cause Digital Transformations to Fail, not Technologists

Over 70% of Digital Transformations fail. The reasons rarely include technology failures because there is a chasm between leaders, creating strategy and execution capability.

Internal politics, leaders that don’t understand data or the influence emerging technology will have on their industry and competitive advantage, are among the reasons. Often there are undefined parameters of what and a misunderstanding of what digital transformation actually means. Are IT really allowed to restructure, remove or add cost to a business unit? Hardly, yet they’ve been told they alone are in charge of “digital transformation”.

Without closing the gap between leadership and technologists the poor CTO can only digitise the business. Digitising is a good start, but digitising is not transformational. Digitising is distinct from transformation. It doesn’t require risky or prolonged innovation. It avoids political showdowns. The problem, however, is that it’s often not enough to win in the digital economy.

5 Ways to Bridge The Gap Between Leaders and Technologists


In this video, Niall McKeown discusses 5 important ways to bridge the gap between leadership and technologists.

  1. Define what is digital transformation and what is simply digitising operations
  2. All leaders, managers and decision-makers need to take a course on digital transformation and understand the business capabilities of emerging technology
  3. Put business leaders in charge of their transformation, enabled by IT
  4. IT departments must first transform themselves
  5. Seek a wave of change to hang your transformation on