Digital Transformation: Redefining Management and Leadership

The Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) UK Economic Outlook March 2017 predicts up to 35 percent of jobs currently carried out by men and 26 percent of jobs currently performed by women are at risk of being taken over by robots and/or artificial intelligence (AI) over the next 10 – 15 years. This equates to more than 10 million jobs in the UK.


While the PWC report predicts: “[job] risks will be highest in sectors such as transportation and storage (56%), manufacturing (46%) and wholesale  and retail (44%), but lower in sectors like health and social work (17%)”, it also acknowledge the rate of change and the degree to which job losses will be mitigated by the creation of new roles is unclear. This transition is not limited to jobs based around manual labour.

The automation of medical diagnosis, legal research, student tuition, language translation, telephone helplines, not to mention the development of robots to deliver personal care in the home, driverless taxis, pilotless aircraft and crewless cargo ships are examples of digital transformation which will also affect managers and redefine professions.

“The extent and rate at which ‘experience’ can be digitised or replaced by machine learning and artificial intelligence will determine the change in the nature of management and leadership”

Jo talking with a robot
Conversing with a robot

With the automation of many tasks and decision-making, there will be fewer people to manage and different decisions for managers to take. The extent and rate at which ‘experience’ can be digitised or replaced by machine learning and artificial intelligence will determine the change in the nature of management and leadership. Business innovation tends to arise from very human qualities such as boredom, frustration, compassion, chance encounters of unrelated ideas and unfettered thinking.

Digital transformation may provide more facts, figures and more accurate predictions, but it is less likely to replace human creativity any time soon.That said, digital transformation is happening now and will continue to disrupt markets, reshape industries and redefine management and leadership for many years to come. Ignoring Digital Transformation is not a strategy for future personal or organisational success. As leaders we need to support and guide our co-workers – and ourselves – through this protracted transformation.

Future blog articles will look at practical strategies individuals and organisation are taking to manage through this change.What is your organisation doing to support individuals through the digital transformation?

Share your case studies with CMI Southern group working on digital transformation.

Picture of Jo Strain - wearing olive green blouse and matching jacketBlog by Jo Strain

Jo is a member of the CMI Southern Regional Board and has responsibility for championing inclusion and diversity.


The series on digital transformation is part of a research project by CIPR Local Public Services Group, CIPR Wessex and CMI Southern, led by Abha Thakor. If you would like to contribute to the cross-institute working group on this topic, contact Jo or Abha.

Further Reading

> PWC UK Economic Outlook March 2017

World Economic Forum: Digital Transformation Initiative in collaboration with Accenture, Executive Summary

> Futurism: How automation is going to define what it means to go to work

CMI Resources on Digital Transformation

> The five barriers to effective Digital Transformation

> McKinsey Quarterly, 2016, Issue 3: Where machines could replace humans and where they can’t (yet) [article available through CMI Management Direct