Winning the digital transformation race: three emerging approaches for leading transition

July 28, 2020

New research from Professor Feng Li, Chair of Information Management at City’s Business School has outlined three new approaches that digital innovators can take to reduce the risk of failure and seize competitive advantage in the industry.

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing many organisations to operate remotely, adoption of the latest secure technologies has taken on greater importance for many industries – presenting great opportunities for providers of these technologies, but also great challenges of meeting demand, staying ahead of competition and surviving in a fast-moving environment.

Professor Li interviewed senior leaders at eight global digital champions including Amazon, VMWare, Slack, Alibaba and Baidu to find out what their strategies were for innovation.

The findings can be summarised into three main approaches that are emerging:All three strategies use elements of diversification and portfolio management to mitigate costs of failure, as is often seen in investor portfolios.

Professor Li said the nature of digital innovation lent itself to a highly dynamic approach.

“Digital technology is a highly volatile, fast-paced sector,” he said.

“It is important for companies in the field to recognise that competitive advantages are short-lived, and that there is no ‘end-point’ for innovation. Throwing all your weight behind one project as a start-to-end activity is highly risky and serves little long-term benefit even if successful.

“Sustainability can only be achieved by continuously reinventing the wheel while seeking new investment opportunities.

“The coronavirus pandemic has both challenged and opened doors of opportunity to traditionally non-digital organisation to innovate methods of banking, education and even living room gym classes.

“This is placing added pressure on industry incumbents to stay ahead of new disruptors, putting further emphasis on the need to have new irons in the fire and the ability to change direction quickly and efficiently between innovations.”

Read Professor Li’s new paper "Leading Digital Transformation: Three Emerging Approaches for Managing the Transition", published by the International Journal of Operations and Production Management (IJOPM).

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