TWO RECENT RESEARCH
projects at European
schools examine how business
leaders should be preparing themselves
for the transformations that will be
brought about by technology.
■ Developing a digital culture is the
biggest challenge human resources
professionals face, according to the
170 HR executives who responded to a
survey conducted by the HR Innovation
Practice Observatory at Politecnico di
Milano School of Management in Italy.
Researchers also found that companies
are struggling with several other
aspects of digitalization: integrating new
technological roles with those already
present (48 percent), beating competition
to attract talent (43 percent), and
planning relevant training to upskill
staff (37 percent).
“Our research indicated that there is
a limited level of maturity and awareness
about how to create a culture that
is truly focused on digital technology,”
notes Fiorella Crespi, head of the Observatory.
“However, encouraging interaction
between those with IT skills and
those without is becoming increasingly
common in businesses, through initiatives
based on gamification, like hackathons.”
She adds that more companies
are investing in people “who can help
to spread a culture of digital innovation
throughout the company.”
But there’s work to do: The research
suggests that only 35 percent of companies
have defined a people strategy.
Says Crespi, “An organization’s ability
to remain competitive will depend on it
being able to review and transform its
processes, products, and business models
in order to respond to the challenges
of this digital revolution.”
“People 4.0: Staying Ahead to Avoid
Falling Behind” was published September
12, 2018, and is available for purchase.
■ But organizations can’t simply
invest in new technologies,
according to a white paper
on digital transformation
from HEC Paris in France.
They also must adapt their
company cultures to both
embrace and think beyond
technological solutions, write
Jean-Rémi Gratadour, executive
director of HEC Paris Digital Center;
Kristine de Valck, associate professor
of marketing; Marie-Hélène Delmond,
associate professor of marketing; and
Stéphane Madoeuf, affiliate professor of
innovation and entrepreneurship.
The researchers argue that an organization’s
digital tools and strategies can
all too easily be replicated and improved.
True competitive advantage will rely
on human initiative and an openness to
new ideas. Digital transformation can be
embraced by all employees, regardless of
their skill levels or functions, if leaders
encourage team members to share
knowledge and work together.
A great digital leader, they say, is
committed to lifelong learning, remains
open to new ideas, uses data to make
decisions, has the right to fail,
leads by example, and works
via networks. This leader
needs both hard skills
(including an understanding
of digital marketing, systems
management, and data
science) and soft skills (including
a focus on leadership, change
management, and coaching).
“Digital transformation is not only
about adopting new technologies,” says
Gratadour. “It’s highly cultural. Gone are
the days of all-powerful managers controlling
events from their ivory towers.
Leaders need to become doers who are
not afraid of challenging ideas and being
challenged by their teams.”
Download “When Digital Culture Transforms Business."