The Digital momentum globally (Industry 4.0), and my conversations with clients regarding their Digital plans, have brought me to an interesting observation: the similarities between the Digital executive’s journey and an Entrepreneur’s journey.

Five imperatives for digital executives and entrepreneurs:

  • Search for clarity of purpose amongst all the noise. The Digital executive has to define what Digital is for her organization and how it will contribute to real business impact. The Entrepreneur has to define carefully and later precisely, the problem she is trying to solve and how that might actually make profitable revenues.
  • Fight hard for funding. This is difficult in part because the business case (or business plan) is never clear and crisp during early stages. This is true for any technology that has disruptive potential. This is also difficult in part because there are more naysayers than believers.
  • Demonstrate early success with scant resources. She has to look for solutions that are relevant, can integrate into the enterprise’s information systems and quickly deploy to demonstrate value. She must depend on partners of all types. And most importantly, the legacy methods and methodologies often don’t work and actually come in the way of innovation. Influencing and managing this change is crucial to success. This phase, all too often, also involves dealing with early setbacks and failures. It requires emotional fortitude and a positive attitude.
  • Quickly re-evaluate the solution for enterprise scale. This is similar to the Entrepreneur having to re-evaluate her organization’s abilities (people, process, products, and tools) for scaled performance. While this is an exciting phase (because there exists a successful pilot), this is also a phase that brings in multiple parties with different interests to the table demanding from the Digital executive a new set of management skills.
  • Finally, as one solution scales and delivers value, both the Digital executive and the Entrepreneur have to look for the next problem to solve because such is their habit.

There are some key differences between the two journeys as well, the most important one being that the Entrepreneur may not have the comfort of working within a larger enterprise and therefore access to certain organization resources which would typically be available to the Digital executive. On the other hand, the Entrepreneur has a clean slate with full authority and doesn’t have to deal with the dynamics of a large enterprise.

Over the two decades, as we have partnered with several transformation leaders, it is clear to me that all of them have been successful because of their clarity of purpose, strong execution skills and a dogged determination to achieve results. They have solved real problems using the power of technology. They have been an ‘entrepreneur’ within their enterprise and delivered immense value to their employers. Digital executives and entrepreneurs have much to learn from one another and can look for ways to assist each other in meeting their goals.

 

Saurabh Sinha​ is founder and CEO of emids, the leader in Digital Transformation. As a pioneer in the healthcare IT industry, Sinha established emids’ healthcare technology capabilities and is focused on leading the company to deliver customer-centric services and solutions that create value for clients’ businesses. Previously, Saurabh worked with global outsourcing giant Wipro Technologies. Be sure to connect with Saurabh on LinkedIn