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Q&A with Kate Smaje

Kate Smaje, senior partner, helps clients with digital transformations and oversees McKinsey’s internal technology and digital transformation.

What should companies prioritize in a digital transformation?

Flexibility—given how fast things change, companies will need to build this into the processes and systems for any business investment, so they can be adapted when necessary. What really matters in the digital age is whether the organization is ready to pivot.

What is digital’s role in delivering a seamless customer experience?

Digital is not an end; it’s a means to an end. Unfortunately, many companies want to be digital rather than figure out how to create a better, faster, and cheaper experience. Digital is the oil that makes the experience as friction free as possible.

What are the top three priorities for upgrading a company’s digital culture?

The first is role modeling. Employees need to see executives not just talking digital but also acting digital. The second is vision. The leadership needs to provide a clear vision about why digital is important and how it will be incorporated into the company’s DNA. The last is internal disruption. Companies need to challenge their people about how digital is going to help them do something different, which often means disrupting their own organizations.

What might surprise a client about Digital McKinsey?

Some might be surprised to know that we can bring top-notch capabilities through our ecosystem of alliances and partnerships. This approach, among other things, allows us to help our clients uncover key insights, develop strategies, and bring products or services to market in a way that limits risk to the business.

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Kate Smaje

Senior Partner, London

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