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Digital Transformation Challenges in Large and Complex Organizations

“This is not any longer only a task for technology nerds and for technology departments – it’s a challenge and a task for everybody.”   – Tom Linckens, Executive VP and CIO, Bertelsmann

About the Study

Over the last few years, Digital Transformation has moved to the top of the agenda of virtually every large corporation. While we usually see a strong consensus about the strategic importance of the topic, evidence shows that the various internal stakeholders of the process, such as IT, Marketing, Strategy, Sales, Communication, HR, or Innovation tend to approach the issue with their distinctive interests and perspectives.

As a result, we often witness a lack of unified perspectives as well as political organizational dynamics that exacerbate an already difficult process. As Digital Transformation requires a collaborative effort across functional boundaries, it is critical to understand the mindset of the various stakeholders and engage them in an in-depth dialogue about their perspectives.

Based on in-depth conversations with more than 30 top executives from six major global corporations, the paper discusses nine key challenges large organizations face in their complex journey towards digital maturity:

  • The Legacy Challenge
  • The Resource Allocation Challenge
  • The Agility Challenge
  • The Ambidexterity Challenge
  • The Challenge of Working with Start-ups
  • The Connectivity Challenge – Dealing with Boundaries
  • The Governance Challenge
  • The Functional Identity Challenge
  • The People Challenge: Re-skilling, Talent Shortage, Mindset Issues

Understanding these challenges and their interplay will help leaders to structure the complex arena of large-scale digital transformation efforts.

roland deiser image

About the Author

Roland Deiser is a Drucker Senior Fellow and leads the Center for the Future of Organization at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. He is also the Founder and Chairman of the Executive Corporate Learning Forum (ECLF), an international consortium of more than 50 global corporations which focuses on key issues of learning and of transformation in large organizations (www.eclf.org).

His current work focuses on the impact of digital technologies on leadership and organization, and on organizational capabilities required in disruptive business environments. His latest books are “Designing the Smart Organization” (2009) and “Transformers” (2014).

About the Center for the Future of Organization

The Center for the Future of Organization (CFFO) is an independent think tank at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. Its mission is to serve as a global hub for applied research and practical discourse on new paradigms of Leadership and Organization with special regards to the role of digital technologies as drivers of competitive advantage. In the tradition of Peter Drucker, the Center works across disciplines, combining conceptual depth with practical applicability and ethical responsibility.

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