The Inconvenient Truth of Hidden Conflict in the C-Suite – And What to Do About It

Sabby Gill, Executive Vice President International, Epicor Software

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Singapore has ranked top among other Asian countries like South Korea and Hong Kong in the recent Asian Digital Transformation Index developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Singapore's well-developed digital infrastructure is recognised for its ability to transform itself amid digital disruptions brought about by the likes of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and ride hailing firm Uber. A highly supportive and coordinated set of government policies in support of infrastructure development, business use of technology and entrepreneurship has also fuelled Singapore's strength in competing in the age of digital disruption.

Beyond Singapore, Southeast Asian businesses are increasingly recognising the need to have a digital strategy in place. McKinsey estimates that digital technologies, including big data, the Internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, and mobility, among others, could have $220 billion to $625 billion in annual economic impact for Southeast Asia by 2030.

As digital technologies continue to evolve and shape markets, companies should be ready to adapt to better serve their customers. Having a digital strategy in place could mean the difference between having a competitive edge or struggling with business growth.

While everyone recognises the importance of a digital strategy, the journey towards developing and implementing that strategy is often unclear. Creating a strategy requires discussion around vision, setting direction, aligning resources and making commitments. Companies need to understand their customers as individuals, all with different purchasing habits, preferences and purchasing journeys. From there, they could formulate a strategy with their target audience in mind. With the number of factors and considerations involved, driving the digital transformation cannot simply be the job of a single executive or department - but the entire C-suite.

The problem with involving a whole department is that there's bound to be some conflict between members of the C-suite. As each member has different priorities and business objectives, it's possible for this conflict to cause larger organisational problems. Part of the tension is caused by a lack of consensus on business growth. According to recent research by Epicor, this misalignment of goals could lead to business problems if left unchecked. But if differing viewpoints are channelled positively, using technology and data to inform decision-making, ideas can foster growth and innovation rather than continue to be a source of conflict.

So what else could be contributing to conflict within the C-suite? One theory is that the CEO occupies a lonely position compared to the rest of the C-suite and has very little insight into the details of the internal specifics within the business. CEOs tend to be more concerned with their "outward selves", answering to stakeholders and explaining numbers to the board of directors.

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