Publisher Pearson announced that Andy Bird, the former head of Walt Disney’s international business, will be its new CEO. Pearson has been struggling with the transition from the shrinking traditional media and textbook market to the new era of digital products and services, and its share price has fallen by more than half during the 7-year tenure of outgoing CEO John Fallon.
In its hiring process, Pearson specifically focused on finding a candidate with strong digital transformation credentials, in addition to the ability to lead the company’s shift from B2B to B2C. Pearson Chairman Sidney Taurel highlighted Mr. Bird’s advocacy and experience moving Disney to streaming—a successful digital transformation which is driving Disney today—as a key reason for this choice.
The difference between successful vs unsuccessful (or nonexistent) digital transformation strategies has rapidly become the key determinant of market leadership in recent years, as businesses in sectors of all types see their product and services becoming increasingly digital. Kuerig Dr. Pepper and Target are two recent examples.
And in the current era of remote work, in which two years’ worth of digital transformation is occurring in two months, the gap between the digital have’s and have nots will continue to accelerate. As business operations across all sectors have become increasingly digitized, the importance of protecting a company’s most important assets—its digital technology—is more important than ever.
Though most companies increasingly recognize the importance of digital, cyber security is an important factor in doing it well or doing it poorly as we see here and here. Security is also something that can get sacrificed by those playing catch-up like Pearson. But Pearson investors like Cevian Capital are looking for Bird to deliver shareholder value—something good cyber governance consistently generates. The Cyberhedge Cyber Governance indices provide market-based proof that cyber governance impacts shareholder value, with the equity prices of the highest rated 5-Star companies outperforming the lowest rated 1-Star companies across every sector, including communications.