5 Reasons You Should Hire An Interim Digital Executive Before You Hire Full-Time

Companies who realize they need digital transformation often rely on one of two options: (1), hire an agency ; or, (2), hire permanent staff.

We suggest a third alternative.

  • Retain an interim operational digital executive and;
  • Then conduct a full-time search once the company has experienced some success in their digital transformation process.

Here are 5 reasons you should hire an interim digital executive before you hire a full-time executive straight away.

Reason #1 — Executives responsible for hiring the new full time exec may not know what they are looking for

If you are thinking of hiring your first digital executive, you might not have the experience to judge the candidates.  Recruiters can help you get to a short list, but they cannot evaluate and prioritize your requirements for you. Why make a costly mistake in time and money?

Impact: Seeing a digital executive in action reduces the likelihood of hiring mistakes.

Reason #2 — What made a candidate successful in the last job, might not be sufficient to succeed in your job.

Some CEO’s might assume that a candidate with a track record at a previous company in a similar vertical is going to be an excellent candidate in his/her company going forward.

That thinking may be at risk, however, because it essentially assumes that the landscape has stayed still — e.g. what worked in a previous company will work in the new company. In fact, the digital landscape is changing constantly.

Here’s an example — a distributor needs to build their digital business. They sense a need for e-commerce as well as a new phenomenon called last mile delivery. They could leapfrog the competition by emphasizing last mile over e-commerce since the investment in leapfrogging the competition on the basis of e-commerce would be enormous.

But since no one has experience in last mile yet, because it is so new, the hiring team defaults to candidates with the best e-commerce background.

A leopard does not change its spots

5 years ago, that would have been a good choice. But with the new requirements in the market, hiring an e-commerce veteran may not be the best solution. The saying “a leopard does not change its spots” may be very applicable. Unless the candidates display innovation in adopting new processes and technologies at their previous firms, they will likely resort to what they know when they walk in the door (e.g. ecommerce), which may candidly not be the highest priority for the corporation.

Given trialing candidates is hard to do, your best bet may be to hire an interim who pilot and vet the requirements of the business, laying the foundation for permanent hires.

Impact: Hiring an interim digital exec may help you vet future candidates

Reason #3  — Interim digital execs usually have a broader technology background than potential full-time hires

As consultants, digital execs are exposed to more technologies and platforms which they can bring into the mix faster. Great interim execs are exposed to startups as advisors, mentors or investors. They have the time and mandate to stay abreast of new technologies and platforms. These new technologies can be brought to bear inside the company faster than with full-time hires whose exposure is much more limited.

Impact: Interim execs can typically start and adapt faster bringing more immediate impact and transformation to the business.

Reason #4  — Interim digital execs usually cross more verticals and business models than potential full-time hires

As consultants, digital executives are trained to pattern match and leverage best practices across verticals —  (education, tech, consumer durables, retail) and see patterns across these verticals and business models (B2C, B2B2C and B2B), especially as they relate to lead generation, consumer experience and fulfillment.

The company gets exposure to innovations across models without exposing the brand.

Impact: Interim execs can bring best practices to bear across industries, which can enable much more far reaching transformation to the business.  

Reason #5  — Transitioning an interim digital executive is much easier and less expensive than a full-time hire

The nature of the operational consultant is to transform and lead in the transition to full time hires and budgets.  The executive creates the playbook that others can then follow and innovate on over time, with the full blessing of the company. Pilots and tests can occur without fear of failure or career suicide because it is positioned as such.

Impact: The company can begin to implement an innovation culture which fosters testing and fast failure as well as success since the interim executive him/herself is a test as well.

Thinking of hiring an agency instead of a full-timer to get started? Our next blog post will look at the 7 reasons why you should hire a digital interim executive before hiring an agency.