What it means to be a digital enterprise

Hans Brechbühl, Executive Director & Adjunct Associate Professor On June 7th, 2017

Topics: Big Data / Analytics Culture Organizational Structure

Roundtable on Digital Strategies | Tuck School of Business Center for Digital Strategies


Organizations are asked to embrace digital change every day. What is it that corporations are really trying to address and why?

Two of the chief insights from a recent executive roundtable we held are inextricably linked:

  1. Digital technologies do not change the ends of business, but they change everything about the means. Companies need to challenge and re-think every operating process and business assumption, or risk being left behind.
  2. The core objective of the digital enterprise is to empower individuals (or groups) to make better decisions faster. The speed of business has become too fast to tolerate centralized, process-driven decision-making.

We have yet to flip the way decision-making happens, and create smaller, more nimble, empowered teams with the ability to make mistakes. And that’s a challenge for a lot of organizations with board members who came up from successful hierarchies in traditional structures.

Andrew Murrell, GM of Digital & Direct Channels, Bank of Queensland

Enterprises don’t exist for some new reason just because digital technologies are available.  Enterprises’ reason for being, namely selling products and serving customers in a useful way that makes money for shareholders, is actually much the same despite all the hype of digital transformation. The “what” is the same — the “how” radically different. At the heart of this “how” is the smart use of data at the speed of the internet, both enabled by strong digital capabilities.

“The biggest concern in all of this is our ability to embrace the change that’s coming.” stated Keith Sturgill, VP & CIO, Eastman Chemical. “What’s different is the speed. We think the world has changed a lot in the last 10 years: We ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Will our organizations be able to embrace that change? Those companies that figure out how to do so will win; those that don’t will lose.”

 

See the overview from our recent Roundtable on Digital Strategies for more explanation and insights.

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