The MIT CISR Research Forum (Europe), hosted by Heineken, recently was held in Amsterdam. As a partner of MIT CISR, ISACA was represented at the event. Presentation titles on the agenda like “Quick Look: What Is Your Digital Business Model?” by Joe Peppard, “Digitized Is Not Digital” by Jeanne Ross, “Managing Organizational Explosions During Digital Transformation” by Nick van der Meulen, and others, provided a good general sense of what the event would be all about.
Having heard a keynote address by Peter Weill on the topic of digital transformation at an earlier ISACA event helped me to formulate some thoughts prior to the event. Two questions kept coming up: “Digital transformation, this year’s hype or is this really something new?,” and “Digital transformation, how does it affect me and my customer organizations?”
During the event these questions remained with me while a lot of insightful information was shared with attendees. As may be expected from MIT CISR, both the academic value and topics of research were excellent. Discussing these topics with the event attendees (senior-level managers from various departments of the sponsor and patron organizations) helped close the gap between academic research and practical application in the various organizations represented. Ultimately, the question “How does it affect me and my customer organizations?” did not get answered, but generated a lot of food for thought. Pathfinder organizations are monetizing digital content they own or have access to by “wrapping” (adding value from digital to current products or services), selling information or improving processes. Finding creative ways to monetize their digital content may prove to be the strategic differentiator for many organizations in the coming years.
On the question “Digital transformation, hype or really new?,” the presentation from Jeanne Ross, “Digitized is not Digital” was thought-provoking. According to this presentation, digitization helps improve operational excellence by digitizing core transactions and creating discipline with back-office processes. Digital helps improve speed of business innovation by empowering people to experiment, release, and constantly enhance digital offerings. So, digital transformation is more about the business creating new and/or enhanced value streams with digital offerings, the next step in the information age.
The event did leave me with one follow-up question that did not get answered: is every (brick and mortar) organization supposed to start generating value with digital offerings in the future – even those organizations that are currently completely focused on physical products? The suggestion I was left with is that organizations not looking at their (future) digital offerings are today’s dinosaurs, waiting to become extinct. That is a concept worthy of further consideration.