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6 habits of highly effective digital disruptors

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If you are seeking to shake up your company's analog existence and become a digital enterprise, take a look at how the leading visionaries are doing it. The Apigee Institute recently scrutinized the management patterns of 300 executives in companies with more than $500 million in annual revenues.

Apigee defined “digital leaders” as companies doing better than average deploying apps, operating APIs, and using data analytics. They have the following six traits in common:

1. They make digital a company-wide commitment: Successful digital proponents seek buy-in from company and department leaders. The "digital leaders have a dedicated executive assigned to lead the digital charge, and make digital projects a company-wide priority. Promote digital transformation across departments and functions: Digital leaders are able to articulately promote transformation across the company. Among digital leaders, 58% manage across departments well, compared to only 23% of leaders at companies that are poorer digital performers.

2. They develop digital strategy mission statements: This will be a short, compelling mission statement that can "serve as a guiding light for the whole company." Digital transformation may be complex, but "the vision and strategy should not be hard to understand," Apigee says.

3. They embrace data-based experimentation: Successful digital disruptors are willing and able to adapt quickly and make decisions iteratively. They are three times as likely to use experimentation as a decision-making criterion for investments.

4. They connect with experts: Successful digital leaders "turn to their professional community, industry and academia to build a strong network of innovators and experts across domains."

5. They speak multiple business languages: Digital leaders are fluent in IT, marketing, strategy and finance. "They should be able to boil down the essentials of a project in a way that makes sense to people throughout the company." They are able to “simplify complexity.”

6. They set tangible goals: Successful digital disruptors tie their efforts to highly tangible returns to the business, such as new revenue stream, higher efficiency, or quicker time to market.

— By on November 7, 2013, 7:12 PM PST

Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure