Roundtable on Digital Strategies

A Digital World: Where Will We Lead Corporate IT?

October 15, 2015 • Hanover, NH • Hosted by the Tuck School at Dartmouth

Four years ago we discussed the impact of technology mega-trends on corporate IT, its organizational structure, its relationships with vendors, and other factors. We discussed five trends in particular, and what they meant for us: the “consumerization” of IT, mobility, big data, social, and cloud. Today, those trends have become more completely embedded in our environment, in some cases so much so that they are not highlighted anymore, while in other cases the spotlight is even brighter. In a report that will come out of the World Economic Forum early this fall a review of the societal impact of overarching technology trends will be discussed, and embedded in them will be developments that we did not even have materially on our corporate IT radars or in the roundtable discussion four years ago: the emergence of the internet of things (and digital in the product or as a service), the impact of the sharing economy, the role of artificial intelligence, the growth of digital currency (bitcoin and the blockchain) and the emergence of 3D printing. And of course digital connectivity, “smart” digital connectivity, continues to grow in almost all parts of the world whether developed or developing, and the separation between traditional and online customers has largely disappeared.

At the time we were also already wrestling with organizational issues: the accessibility of consumer technology and what shadow IT meant to us; the emergence of a different, more personal marketing approach, often based on technology and the necessity for collaboration with the CMO’s organization; and the much faster cycles brought on by mobile apps. These and other such developments were bringing organizational challenges, which have only accelerated with time. Other indications of transformation have appeared: the creation of the Chief Digital Officer; OT (operations technology – not just manufacturing) has joined MT (marketing technology) in visibly taking a different route that challenges IT; and digital technology just keeps becoming more and more central to the strategy, operations and marketing of many businesses—and the products. The result is the age of the digital business model, where technology is no longer the business of IT:  IT is now everyone’s business, and increasingly it is the business. New companies with a clean start are emerging to challenge established players (think Uber and taxis or Airbnb and hotels) and transform business models in many industries. And all of this is in an environment of ever-increasing security challenges, with new breaches all the time. In this roundtable we will examine what this means for the corporate IT organization, and we will challenge ourselves to develop a set of operating principles for how to approach this new environment. Some of the questions we will seek to address are:

  • How does one organize IT in this environment? Is two-speed IT the solution? If so, what does it look like and is it all under the CIO? If not, what are other options?
  • How do we encourage and support the rapid development of capabilities in all parts of the business—“the blooming of a thousand flowers”—while ensuring that data can be shared, infrastructures leveraged and not duplicated, and critical information protected?
  • How do we support emerging business opportunities where data/info/analytics is becoming the product/service?
  • Can our current talent in IT make the necessary leaps? Would we be better off hiring into a new and different organization?
  • What role do or should third-party cloud-based solutions (IaaS/SaaS/PaaS) play in our organizations? Are we using them to support IT, and/or to enable other business functions directly? How embedded are cloud-based solutions in our organizations? How are they managed?
  • How is the leadership challenge different in this new IT environment? What are the new imperatives, and how do we have to organize, manage, and lead differently in order to meet them?
  • How do we have to rethink governance models and metrics? What are the new criteria for measuring success?  And how do we balance the upside potential of innovation with the downside risks of data security and business model disruption?

A look back at 13 years of Roundtables…

  • Participants gather for dinner in Stell at Tuck the night before the roundtable.

  • Hans moderated the four sessions, including, "The Collective Impact of Technology Trends; Emerging Digital Business Models and Corporate Roles; The Organizational Approach: IT Structure, Culture and Governance Principles; The Future CIO Role: Where Will We Lead Corporate IT?"

  • All the participants gather for a shot on the front steps to Tuck. (front) Steve Plume, Tim Sarvis, Michael Krigsman, Roland Paanakker, Mark Hillman, Donna Vinci, John Garing, Hans Brechbuhl (back) Alva Taylor, Max Braun, Mark Meyer, Tim Gude, Volker Laska, Jim Green, Edward G. Happ and Stephen Kahl.

  • Clariant's CIO, Volker Laska, explains why he sees digital leadership as a partnership and that leadership configuration is often dependent on the industry.

  • Dean Matt Slaughter speaks with the Roundtable Participants.

  • Participants Tim Sarvis, Director, IT Supply Chain and Administrative Solutions, Eastman Chemical Company on the left and John Garing, VP, ViON Corporation on right.

  • Tim Gude, Corporate Executive Director of IT, Finance and HR at Volkswagen AG participated in the roundtable discussion on Thursday and the Tech Conference/Britt Technology Impact Series panel on Friday.

  • Levi Strass's CIO, Roland Paanakker, responds to a question. He also participated in the Tech Conference/Britt Technology Impact Series panel on Friday.

  • Mark Meyer, Head of Global IM at Tetra Pak Group, shares his perspective as Professor Taylor listens.

  • Mark Hillman, CEO of Lenderful, Co-founder of Mad Dog Technology and longtime friend of our center, gives his views and Bank of Queensland's Group Executive, Donna Vinci, listens close.

  • CDS MBA Fellow, Kaia Davis T'16, listens in.

  • Edward G. Happ, Global CIO, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies came from Geneva for the discussion. To his right sit Roland Paanakker, CIO at Levi Strauss and to his right is Clariant's CIO, Voker Laska.

  • Professor Taylor likes what he hears!


Topic Statement

Participant List

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