Keep up with all the latest thoughts and opinions.

We make it happen.

Becoming a digital transformation manager: A guide to digital leadership

Thursday, August 17th, 2023

Digital Transformation Manager envisions tech development in her business

Digital disruption is nothing new, but it certainly remains a key challenge for organisations around the world. Digitisation, automation and AI is predicted to displace as many as 375 million workers – 14% of the global workforce – by 2030.  

For businesses to remain viable in this new digital world, transformation is required. As a result, organisations seek experts to manage disruption, implement emerging technologies and drive sustainable change. This is the role of digital transformation manager. 

Read our guide below on how to become a digital transformation manager and find out exactly how to build the digital leadership skills and transformation management knowledge to pursue fast-growing career opportunities. 

Understanding digital transformation and the role of a manager 

What is digital transformation? 

Firstly, what is digital transformation? Digital transformation is the process of aligning an organisation with modern-day needs, applying technology and advanced processes in order to bring the company into the 21st Century. 

In the words of IBM, digital transformation “takes a customer-driven, digital-first approach to all aspects of a business, from its business models to customer experiences to processes and operations.” 

In the transformation stage, digital technologies are implemented strategically, often involving AI, cloud computing, automation and other technologies to create intelligent workflows and leverage data for the future success of the business. 

What are the benefits of digital transformation? 

  • Faster and smarter decision making 
  • Real-time response to market disruptions 
  • New business opportunities  
  • Better customer and client experiences 
  • Lower overheads and better management of risk 
  • Competitiveness in a rapidly changing business environment 

What does a digital transformation manager do? 

A digital transformation manager is responsible for leading and strategising on key projects within the company. They will need to hold a global vision of the company, with knowledge of all its elements and functions. 

Within digital transformation specifically, managers will oversee the creation and implementation of a roadmap for digital innovation, in line with the company’s goals and business requirements. 

As well as understanding the digital efficiency of the company, a digital transformation specialist will need up-to-date leadership skills to handle stakeholders, managers, clients and employees, and to push forward the company’s transformation goals. 

A digital transformation specialist may: 

  • Design and implement strategies to enhance customers’ and clients’ digital experience 
  • Create strategies to encourage adoption of new technological services and products 
  • Acquire appropriate IT infrastructure, looking at both cost-effectiveness and productivity 
  • Coordinate a plan of action (roadmap) 
  • Build the capacity to analyse and collect new data 
  • Ensure the security of new technologies through the development of cybersecurity protocols 
  • Allocate budget for transformation 

Key skills for digital transformation managers

The first thing to do if you want to get into digital transformation management is to ensure you have the up-to-date skills needed for a leadership role in an evolving field. 

In order to lead marketing, management and development teams in times of disruption, digital transformation managers must hold a unique skill set that encompasses technical know-how, business acumen and leadership ability. Such complex workplace requirements mean that businesses have a growing desire to hire dual specialists – those with a technical background and up-to-date business qualifications. 

The best candidates will have familiarity with programming languages, data analytics, machine learning and digital security, as well as softer skills involving communication and people management. 

Key digital transformation manager skills include: 

  • Stakeholder engagement 
  • Complex product management 
  • Transformation leadership 
  • Business analysis and business strategy 
  • Tech and data analysis in consulting 
  • Digital leadership skills (strategic thinking, people management, clear communication, etc.) 

Besides these advanced skills, a digital transformation manager will also be able to communicate ideas and motivate a team, resilient and responsive to change signals in order to create adaptable business strategies in line with new technology adoption. 

If your skillset does not yet include all the skills listed above, you can focus on gaining them at your current workplace, on a side project, or by taking up a postgraduate course. 

Study online at Ulster 

The Business in Technology programme aligns business acumen with tech proficiency, to produce in-demand, highly employable graduates for management roles in tech-led sectors.  

To provide the most accessibility for working professionals, our Business in Tech programme allows students to graduate with one of three qualifications:  

Each qualification leads on from the last, in an online, part-time format. There is also the option to pay module-by-module and take breaks as needed. 

Digital Transformation Manager uses online network to get ahead

Exploring career opportunities in digital transformation 

Those entering the world of digital transformation management will discover a diverse range of career opportunities across various sectors including technology, finance, healthcare, retail, manufacturing and beyond. 

An emerging field also offers lots of potential for fast career growth and a huge job pool to tap into. As well as the title of digital transformation manager, consultant, specialist or director, similar roles may include: 

  • Project manager 
  • Change lead 
  • Digital strategy consultant 
  • Transformation delivery manager 
  • Migration analyst 

Building skills through a postgraduate degree  

Tech professionals wishing to pursue digital leadership roles (and managers looking to build technical awareness) may need to consider enrolling in a postgraduate programme to gain the relevant skills. 

At Ulster Online, we offer part-time career progression with our range of postgraduate programmes. The online Business in Technology MSc is an MBA-style programme designed to help you develop the necessary skills to lead in tech-led industries and gain the confidence to take on management roles through a combination of the latest theory and practice. 

Module content includes: 

  • Business analytics and consulting 
  • Transformation leadership 
  • Tech operations in transformation 
  • Complex project management 

Additionally, project-based learning modules will allow you to gain real-life experience, alongside a holistic understanding of digital transformation and transferrable skills such as analytical thinking, strategic planning, and problem-solving abilities. 

Tips for getting into transformation management roles 

Use your network 

If you are a technical specialist with few connections at senior levels, you may find it hard to advance, especially so if this is your first step towards a transformation management role. To counter this struggle, you can focus on building your network. 

  • Postgraduate study is a perfect way to quickly build your network, allowing you to work with and get mutual support from like-minded professionals. Ulster University’s online Masters courses provide this opportunity for professionals without the need to take a break from work.  
  • Attend management events (both within and outside of the workplace) and connect authentically with the people whose jobs you covet so you can be ready when a new job opening comes up. 
  • Use LinkedIn to help land your next job. The world’s largest online professional network, LinkedIn connects 700 million users from 55 million registered companies worldwide. 

The collaborative nature of the Ulster Online programmes makes global networking more convenient than ever. Throughout the Business in Technology MSc, you’ll be encouraged to collaborate on weekly tasks and share ideas with your peers from around the world. 

As well as interacting with other tech professionals, you’ll also benefit from the industry connections of our academics, who can teach the skills and knowledge most sought after by large organisations and key executives. 

Know where to search for digital transformation jobs

After gaining the skills to become a digital transformation manager, the next step is to know where to go to find suitable positions. Digital transformation jobs are hugely varied depending on the industry and organisation, and the scope will vary too. 

There are technical job sites such as Techojobs, JustIT and TopTechJobs which list managerial roles within tech companies, alongside widely known job portals such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Indeed. 

For digital transformation manager careers outside the traditional set-up, you can also consider applying at start-up companies on dedicated job sites such as WhiteTruffle, Welcome to the Jungle and Dice. 

Consultancy and digital strategy roles may also be in line with your ambitions, alongside areas such as HR digital transformation 

Study with Ulster Online 

If you’re thinking about becoming a digital transformation manager, you may now be wondering about upskilling in order to meet job requirements. 

Here at Ulster University, we recognise the demand for tech professionals with business skills. Our online, part-time Business in Tech MSc is designed based on insights from business leaders, and strives to provide tech professionals with the relevant knowledge and practical skills needed to lead digital transformation. 

You can gain your Masters degree in two years of part-time study, with the alternative option of graduating sooner with a PG Cert in Business Analysis and Consulting in 8 months*, a PG Dip in Transformation Management and Leadership in 16 months* or the full MSc in Business in Technology in two years*, part-time. We also offer module-by-module payment plans and the option to pause your studies if needed.

* The minimum amount of time taken to complete each qualification, based on 20 hours per week of study time. 

Related blogs

Digital Transformation Manager envisions tech development in her business

Becoming a digital transformation manager: A guide to digital leadership

Thursday, 17th August, 2023

Thumbnail image of online learning student cross-legged with laptop against a blue background - researching online business courses

The different types of online business degree, explained

Tuesday, 24th January, 2023