Thursday, 6 October 2016

Leading Digital – Turning Technology into Business Transformation by Westmann, Bonnet and McAffee – Key Points

Leading Digital outlines how firms in any industry can harness digital technologies to gain strategic advantage. The book categorises four types of organisation according to their ‘level of digital mastery’ with the follow characteristics:
  1. Beginners – an immature digital culture usually with a management sceptical of the business value of advanced technologies; 
  2. Fashionistas – a digital culture which lacks an overarching vision; but has many advanced features which exist in silos. 
  3. Conservatives – an overarching digital vision which is underdeveloped, but active steps are being taken to build digital skills and culture; there is strong digital governance across silos.
  4. Digital Masters – a strong digital culture flowing from an overarching digital vision with excellent governance across silos; many digital initiatives generating measurable business value. Digital Masters combine digital capabilities and leadership capabilities to achieve performance that is greater than either dimension can deliver on its own. 

The book also has some very useful self-assessment tools:
  • How well is your organisation building digital capabilities?
  • How well is your organisation building leadership capabilities?

Structure of the Book

Part One: Digital Capability: the what of digital mastery 

  • How firms engage with customers and how they can create a ‘compelling customer experience’. 
  • How digital technologies can transform operational processes and ‘exploit the power of core processes’
  • How digital technologies can produce and reinvent new business models. 

Part Two: Leadership Capabilities: the how of digital mastery

  • How to create a ‘transformative digital vision’. 
Re-envisioning the customer experience
Re-envisioning operational processes
Combining both of these to re-envision business models 
  • How to engage and energize employees to make the vision a reality. 
  • How to put in place good ‘Digital Governance’ which will keep the transformation on the right track. o Standandise o Automate o Accelerate 
  • How to develop ‘technology leadership capabilities’ to drive the transformation forward. 

Part Three: the Leader’s Playbook for Digital Transformation – concrete management guidance on how to get started. 

  • How to frame the ‘Digital Challenge’
  • How to focus investments
  • How to mobilise the organisation 
  • How to sustain the change. 

Some favourite quotes from the book: 

“The digital operations advantage is about more than great tools. It’s a combination of people, processes, and technology connected in a unique way to help you outperform you competitors.” p.69 
“Companies fall apart when their model is so successful that is stifles thinking that challenges it.” p.87 
“Leadership capabilities are essential to achieving true digital transformation, they turn digital investment into digital advantage.” p.95 
“When your technology leadership capabilities are weak, everything is a risky struggle. When they are strong, you can do great things.” p.171 
“Focussing investment is where the rubber meets the road in digital transformation.” p.189 

Some thoughts in response to the book

  • Digital technologies have not brought cost savings in education because of increased compliance. 
  • Digital transformation will not be possible in secondary schooling until it is liberated from the shackles of the (British) examination system. 
  • So many schools have not imposed digital governance. Enthusiasts have been allowed to run off in all directions. There needs to be a balance between empowerment and anarchy.

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