Digital leaders create a renaissance in their organisations

Renaissance translates as ‘rebirth’, and is the name given to the period when Europe emerged from the Dark Ages into a more enlightened modern era. The Renaissance was a fiercely forward-thinking time. It spawned a scientific revolution where science, technology and culture began a cycle of mutual advancement.

In a new report, ‘Winning Through Change in the Digital Economy’ by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, sponsored by DXC Technology, we saw a similar blend of technology-driven cultural change, a renaissance. The report takes a close look at the digital readiness of hundreds of businesses by surveying 376 business leaders from a variety of industries around the world. Here are some of the key findings.

Winning requires digital leaders who lead by example, show purpose and play as a team

To really succeed in the digital economy, digital leadership is essential. When asked about factors that have been most instrumental in creating a change-embracing organisation, 53% of respondents said leadership communication, the top-rated factor. The number 2 factor was leadership modeling new behaviors, according to 44% of respondents. Technology usage now extends far beyond the traditional scope of Enterprise IT, and cuts across most business operations and fiefdoms. Just about every company function is becoming digital, one way or another, and thus, everyone in the C-suite needs to be a digital leader in some way. Digital leadership should be a team sport.

One of the report’s key points is that leaders must create a sense of purpose and a common understand by defining and communicating a compelling strategy for digital transformation. Typically, as the report says, these strategies use an ‘Outside In’ approach. This involves scouting Silicon Valley and China for startups and new trends, seriously engaging in ecosystems and creating a digital culture by energizing employees and executives through incubators, accelerators, hackathons, and putting digital experts on boards. That’s been done at 78% of very digital companies surveyed. To be recognized as very digital, more than half of an organisation’s products, operations, and business models depend on the ability to exploit digital information and technologies.

Winning requires an organisation ‘designed for constant evolution’

Strong leadership is only the beginning. To really push forward, change your organisational structures and corporate culture. Consider what Coca-Cola FEMSA did. The world’s largest franchise bottler of Coca-Cola beverages created centers of excellence to drive transformation in each of its functional or process areas (deploying a center of excellence is one of four ‘routes’ DXC’s Leading Edge Forum have identified in their report, ‘The Renaissance of the IT Organization’). The new structure has accelerated the bottler’s ability to roll out new capabilities, cutting in half the time it takes to roll out a new release (from 12 months to six).

A majority of respondents talked about the need to change faster, and their organisation’s inability to do so. As the report says, ‘The trick will be to both accelerate change and create a culture that can sustain that over time’; they have to create an organisation ‘designed for constant evolution’. Furthermore, (89%) said they are creating new organisational structures and teams to support digital operations and business models. And very digital organisations are twice as likely as the not-very-digital ones to be doing this to a great extent (37% versus 14%). These very digital organisations are using small, self-managing teams as part of a dynamic operating model, such as Pioneer, Settler, Town Planner.

A digital transformation is a renaissance

Digital leadership means setting a powerful personal example. That goes for all the digital leaders in an organisation; executives, tech-savvy employees, executives of aigital suppliers and the IT organisation. Without this extended team showing digital leadership, the huge cultural changes involved in digital transformation are impossible. Those changes come about when the organisation increasingly reorganises into a dynamic operating model that includes small, self-managing teams to create the agility required for a constantly evolving organisation. A renaissance by any other name.

Bill Murray is a senior researcher and advisor for DXC Technology’s Leading Edge Forum. He has over 30 years of consultancy experience working in many sectors. He is currently researching and advising on digital strategy, platform businesses and the renaissance of the IT organisation. @billmurray500


Winning Through Change in the Digital Economy

The Renaissance of the IT Organization

Digital Leadership in the C-Suite



  1. […] For many organisations this has meant a rethink of how they are structured to deliver new services. In some cases a Chief Digital Officer is appointed outside of the IT function, and in other cases there has been a fundamental rethink of how their IT organisation is structured under the CIO. Increased process ownership, consumption-based pricing models, and increased engineering, devops and microservice capabilities are prevalent, especially within business units. All told, we are witnessing a renaissance in the organisation. […]


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