What questions should guide a digital transformation?
Presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article published with permission from Knowledge@Wharton, the online research and business analysis journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
A new book from MIT researchers Stephanie Woerner and Peter Weill offers a field-tested framework on how companies can digitally transform, based on a years-long study at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research.
The book, “What’s Your Digital Business Model,” is framed around six questions for companies and business leaders to consider:
- What is the digital threat and opportunity?
- Which business model is best for your enterprise’s future?
- What is your digital competitive advantage?
- How will you connect using mobile and IoT?
- Do you have the crucial capabilities to reinvent the enterprise?
- Do you have the leadership to make the transformation happen?
In an interview on the Knowledge@Wharton show on SiriusXM, Ms. Woerner said companies need to significantly increase cross-functional collaboration in building a digital culture. More people across skillsets who understand what digital can do for a company are required. Said Ms. Woerner, “If you really look at the ways of working, we’re seeing a lot more test-and-learn, a lot more experimentation. But you can’t just experiment. You actually have to know how to take those experiments and then scale them up.”
Indeed, as its digital research advances, MIT is seeing that work is changing, becoming more flexible and more evidence-based.
“We’re also seeing that leadership has to change because they can’t just go with intuition,” said Ms. Woerner. “They’ve got to be willing to look at the data that all of their operations and their people are coming up with. It’s a lot more about communication. And there’s a really big piece about coaching because if you’re going to iterate and learn and experiment, you have to be able to give feedback on a continuous basis so that both people and the organization can succeed.”
A common shortfall is layering a digital business unit onto the enterprise instead of seeking fundamentally change. Ms. Woerner said, “There is some very complicated, deep background work that’s got to be done to pull off these integrated products and services.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you approve of the author’s list of questions to help prepare for digital transformation? Would you add or remove any? What are the biggest challenges for business leaders trying to affect fundamental change?