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Digital-first companies have developed customer experiences where excellence is expected. Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple use the vast amounts of data they have to tailor their experience and deliver ultra-personalised services that make our lives easier.

Almost every other business is trying to take a leaf out of their books, but does your organisation have the technical know-how to compete?

Research by Deloitte has shown that the proportion of business leaders that lack confidence in their own digital skills has risen from 28% to 37% in the past year.

Conquer your fear of failure

So how do business leaders improve their digital literacy? Rather than just reading about a topic, you actually need to experience it. And that involves experimenting, breaking things, and failure.

Some organisations are still afraid of failure. However, instilling the confidence to ask questions and test out ideas across a company – not just in the IT team – pays off. It lets you understand what a technology can and can’t do, and it builds a culture of failing fast, which is the quickest way to the innovation that could set your business apart.

What can business leaders do?

It’s tempting to throw away everything you thought you knew about business and reboot your organisation based on the latest 'How to build a start-up' bestseller. But combining the best traits of your existing infrastructure with the latest agile techniques is the more practical approach.

Take all your expertise and investment and explore how you can use that to continually adapt as your market changes. Embrace the idea that testing, failing and repeating is the backbone of the agile business.

Diverse ideas are vital to making smarter digital decisions. Businesses that want to lead should make sure that their senior leadership team combines both youth and experience, wisdom and enthusiasm, curiosity and scepticism.

The ideal leadership board seeks ideas from established C-level executives with the experience that matters, as well as younger people who have grown up with the internet and prefer fast, flat, and agile working cultures.

You can find the top five actions that business leaders should take now in our report: Ditch ‘digital’ to be digital: How immersing yourself and your organisation in technology is key to creating an agile business.