At AICD, our digital transformation journey is primarily aimed at delivering substantial benefits to our members. 

    In an era dominated by rapid digital advancements, Australian boards are embracing digital transformation not merely as a technological upgrade, but as a strategic necessity. This goes beyond the adoption of new technologies. It involves a fundamental rethinking of business models and strategies to effectively harness digital advancements, thereby revolutionising how organisations operate and deliver value to their customers. All of this enables stronger performance across both financial and non-financial measures.

    At AICD, we want to ensure directors remain at the forefront of these developments and the associated governance challenges. In this issue of Company Director, we feature a compelling case study of successful digital transformation at NRMA, a motorists’ mutual that is more than 100 years old. Chair Tim Trumper GAICD and CEO Rohan Lund explain how they kept their commitment to the organisation’s values and core customers while preparing for a disrupted future in motoring. Lund says of Trumper: “He could see the greatest risk the organisation faced was not doing anything.”

    Member-centric transformation

    The term “digital transformation” understates the reality: what’s required today is a comprehensive, ongoing shift in business operations, not just a one-off project. It’s a journey that takes years to gain momentum. The digital transformation at AICD, skilfully led by Chief Digital and Information Officer and COO Vince DiChiara since May 2020, exemplifies this process.

    A central focus of our approach is strategic alignment, that is, ensuring our digital initiatives resonate with our purpose and strategy. This is crucial as it positions technology as an enabler of our strategic goals rather than a mere add-on. Furthermore, we place immense importance on our people, recognising that the most advanced technology is only as effective as those who wield it. Empowering our team with the necessary skills, mindset and support has been essential.

    At AICD, our digital transformation journey is primarily aimed at delivering substantial benefits to our members. We are evolving the way directors can source information, utilising digital platforms to provide on-demand access to a wealth of resources. Through data analytics, we are offering a more personalised experience, ensuring every interaction with AICD is relevant and valuable.

    This transformation enables us to scale our member benefits like never before. From virtual events to online learning modules, we’re broadening our offerings and providing more opportunities for professional development and networking. We are also considering investments in advanced digital learning platforms that offer a range of interactive and engaging educational experiences. These platforms enhance accessibility and would accommodate the busy schedules of our members.

    Cultivating a learning culture

    It’s a stark reality that about 70 per cent of digital transformations fail. The key to success is learning from each step of the journey. Cultivating a culture of learning, rather than blame, is vital when undertaking complex digital projects.

    The AICD has gleaned several other lessons:

    • People matter: The right talent is crucial to nurturing a culture where continuous development is encouraged.

    • Connecting to strategy: We consistently anchor our digital efforts to our strategic objectives, ensuring we stay true to our core mission while pursuing technological advancement.

    • Ruthless prioritisation: With finite resources, prioritisation is essential. We channel our efforts and resources into digital initiatives that offer the highest strategic value.

    • Strategic partnerships: We’ve learned the value of deep and aligned strategic partnerships. These are not mere transactional relationships, they are integral to our purpose and strategic objectives. 

    • Adaptable by design: Our approach to digital transformation is inherently adaptable, recognising the ever-evolving digital landscape and the changing needs of our members.

    This is our aspiration. The process has not been perfect, but we do look to improve at every stage of the journey.

    At a more general level, my suggestion to any board considering digital transformation is to focus on the “transformation” element rather than the “digital”. The management team and its advisers should be strong on the digital side of things. It’s transformation where wise heads and good judgement can help.

    Feedback loops

    We acknowledge that there is still a significant journey ahead for the AICD. However, we hope our members are beginning to experience an institute that is more agile, responsive and user-friendly. Your ideas and feedback are crucial as we refine our initiatives, and we encourage you to share your experiences — both positive and negative — to help us continue to improve.

    Warm wishes

    Finally, as we approach the end of another year, I want to extend my warmest wishes to all AICD members. Through all the complexities boards face, it’s been another successful year for Australian governance and we can look forward to 2024 with excitement and optimism. Thank you for all your contributions. I hope you have a safe and restful break, with time to reflect on the year’s achievements and recharge for the months ahead. 

    This article first appeared under the headline 'Digital Enablement’ in the December 2023 / January 2024 issue of Company Director magazine.  

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