The Digital Enterprise and New Ways of Thinking

This recent Article titled “Sayonara Sony” by Adam Hartung provides a great example of the dangers of not evolving as a business. I can’t help but think that this story will play out countless times over the next three to five years. In Sony’s case, it is a stubborn reliance on industrial age thinking that has driven their downward spiral. Those companies that won’t abandon their specific reliance on legacy practices will suffer the same fate. We’ve moved on from the industrial age. We are in the midst of an information age that requires completely new ways of thinking. Sustained innovation is the new mantra, and the emerging digital enterprise will not function on long standing management theory. Leaders need to realize this and adapt – or suffer the consequences. They need to embrace the characteristics of the new digital enterprise: 

  • Sustained innovation
  • Engagement and insight-driven
  • Mobile first
  • Context-aware
  • Business Technology NOT Information Technology
  • Relationship-based
  • Flexibility in operating & business models
  • Experiential versus transactional
  • Prescriptive

The best leaders can adapt – but we’ve never seen a time quite like this before. There is so much unchartered territory and things are changing very fast. Therefore, leaders need to be flexible, they need to be students of the disruptive forces that are driving change, and they need to be open to new ways of doing things. In short, they need to disrupt, before being disrupted. If not – it’s “Sayonara fill-in-the-blank”.

When Innovations Collide

The future of sustained competitive advantage hinges on the ability to effectively manage the collision of disruptive innovations. The digital disruption driven by Mobile, Social, Big Data, Cloud and the Consumerization of IT is impacting every industry. To date, much has been said about these individual areas of innovation. But the areas of intersection – critical to creating value from these innovations – have mostly been ignored. As innovations collide, the intersection must be effectively managed – or the result is distributed chaos. As the digital disruption takes hold across every company, in every industry, the need to transform becomes a business imperative – and future digital strategies will define success or failure.

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It Comes Down to Excellence

As I reflect upon a month full of customer discussion, it becomes clearer that future and sustained competitive advantage hinge on excellence in two critical areas: collaboration and analytics. The need for a relationship-based enterprise becomes more apparent as we look at the critical need to:

  1. Re-invent customer relationships
  2. Leverage the collective knowledge and talent of our organization
  3. Partner to facilitate operating dexterity

This relationship imperative makes collaboration excellence a critical success factor; and a key enabler is social computing. I don’t mean Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube (although they play a role) but rather the use of social technologies to drive effective collaboration and communication. This evolution to social business moves the enterprise up the collaboration axis as described in the diagram below.

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In a recent presentation, Forrester describes the uniqueness of our current business environment as a perfect storm of technology innovation. In the past, technology cycles were driven by one major innovation (mainframe computing, personal computing, networked computing). The current environment sees a perfect storm of cloud computing, social business, mobile computing, advanced analytics and smart computing. This latest cycle begins a period of accelerated innovation, and introduces a larger potential for disruption than in past cycles.

Disruption in many different forms is not just possible, but likely. Business models across many industries are already under attack. The Information Technology (IT) function itself will see considerable change over the next several years. As the workforce and business leaders play a bigger role in technology selection, the role of IT will evolve. What IT looks like in the future is anyone’s guess, but change is almost certain. The current outsourcing model that so many companies have embraced over the years, will change as cloud computing widens its footprint. The way companies build and deploy applications will change, as mobile apps and app stores shift from the consumer world to the enterprise. The way companies interact and communicate with all stakeholders will change, as social media evolves to social business.

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Digital Strategy 2.0

I have visited with companies over the last couple of months and the term “Digital Strategy” has come up many times. It started me thinking about the last time the term was very popular – the late 1990s and early 2000 time period. I saw a reference to Digital Strategy 2.0 last week and thought it was a perfect way to describe this latest phenomenon. Several factors are driving this renewed focus on digital strategy: 

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