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A Third of UK Employees Doubt Their Leadership in Digital Transformation

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Nearly one-third of UK staff have no confidence in their bosses to erect and run a modern digital infrastructure, according to the latest Trends Report from Advanced. The findings come as the British business world confronts new digital challenges, including heightened cyber-security threats and the looming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The survey, of 1,000 professionals at UK companies, is the second commissioned by the software firm. It examines the preparedness of British businesses to weather digital disruption and identifies the biggest barriers to the digital transition—including leadership.

Gordon Wilson, CEO at Advanced, said: “Businesses will not succeed in the digital era without a strong, skilled and admirable leadership team. 

“A lack of confidence will only demotivate employees, thwart productivity and cost businesses money. Ultimately, it will leave leaders trailing behind those that do have the leadership attributes to reimagine their business and embrace the opportunity of the digital era,” he added.

And the consequences for poor digital leadership and failing to adapt are only increasing. Cyber-security attacks are on the rise and successful assaults can be extremely expensive and disruptive for businesses—and cost executives their jobs, as seen in the recent cases of TalkTalk and Equifax. 

Julian David, CEO of techUK, said: “It’s no longer a question of whether or not your company will experience a cyberattack, but rather when it will be attacked. That is why it is so important that cybersecurity is a top-level priority for organisations, from the boardroom down. Organisations that prioritise security can confidently adopt new technologies, from cloud to IoT to AI, which facilitates innovation and helps them grow their businesses.”

The penalties for data breaches will also escalate when GDPR comes into force in the spring. For example, Equifax could have been fined more than £100 million for its latest breach, if the regulation had been in force. However, many businesses are unprepared for the new rules.

Mr David added: “Too many organisations are unprepared for (or unaware of) the changes that GDPR will bring and the new responsibilities placed on data controllers. Additional guidance is needed from the Information Commissioner’s Office, and particularly for SMEs, on how to prepare for GDPR. Similarly, senior leaders must ensure they are doing all they can to manage the changes ahead with the information already available.”

Survey respondents were also asked to list the most important characteristics for a leader in the digital era and overwhelmingly cited the ability to embrace change (82%), think and react quickly (67%) and make bold decisions (57%). Fewer (42%) thought that leaders personally need a digital skillset.

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