How Can a Business Become a Digital Powerhouse?

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
Digital Business

Digital technology is rewriting business and IT rules. Success requires intrapreneurial thinking, rapid piloting, fast iteration and a different ecosystem.

Achieving a Digital Business Framework

Regardless of the industry or business, it's critically important for company leaders to expand thinking and embrace sometimes uncomfortable concepts in order to achieve a digital business framework, Accenture's Daugherty points out. The first step is to examine how the fundamental business model needs to change. This may encompass products and services and require an examination of practices and emerging technologies across industries.

The second step is to understand how to transform customer relationships through innovation in products, apps, experiences and more. The third step is to determine how to rewire the enterprise to operate more digitally, including by providing tools that unleash productivity among Millennials and Gen Z employees.

"Creating the best digital workplace to attract the right talent is critically important," Daugherty says. "It's also necessary to look for ways to revamp processes, including supply chains." In many cases, all of this is fueled by cloud computing and mobility, which deliver significant strategic gains through greater agility and flexibility.

As line-of-business units gain greater power and control of IT spending, it's also crucial to embed technology expertise in business units and business acumen in IT groups. "Organizations must understand how technology is infused in every part of the business," Daugherty says.

The CIO can deliver on the promise by becoming more of a consultant to various business units and groups, but the task cannot stop there, Capgemini's Smith adds. IT and business leaders must embrace open networks and open innovation programs, along with other approaches that contribute to a freer exchange of ideas.

It's also necessary to seek out new and sometimes unconventional partnerships. It's important to look at ecosystems in a broad context and, in some cases, include seemingly incongruous companies as well as competitors.

In addition, many companies and their IT departments benefit from working with incubators, accelerators, startups, venture capitalists, universities and other organizations that provide insights into entrepreneurial thinking and approaches. These open-innovation programs frequently lead companies into a bold new frontier where it's required to share at least some proprietary information in exchange for access to innovative and disruptive thinking.

In the end, there are no easy answers for how to become a digital powerhouse. But, as Smith points out: "It is critical to build a digital-first mindset, support data-driven decisions, raise the digital IQ of the organization and address change management issues."

Ultimately, she advises, "Never lose sight of the value chain. Customer stickiness and brand stickiness are the most important factor for achieving success."

This article was originally published on 2016-06-23
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
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