April 2018

Three (3) Must-Read Books on Digital Transformation

This article, originally posted here, and reposted with permission, seeks to point those interested in conducted, leading, or simply participating in your company’s digital transformation, in the direction of some tools that I have discovered working as the Manager for IT University of Copenhagen’s Business Innovation Lab that are not only based in scientific research but approachable from a business perspective.

Today, the calls for Digital Transformation can be heard coming from nearly every nook & cranny of practically every industry.

Evolve or die, as the newly christened adage goes. But why is digital transformation important? And as an organization how do we know we are doing it right?

In 2013, Psychology & Behavioral Economics Professor, Dan Ariely, famously compared Big Data to teenage sex and I would say that the same comparison is apt today to digital transformation:

Many organizations already claim to be undergoing a digital transformation. The most prevalent proof of this is adopting more agile methods of working and collaborating.

But a look under the hood, often times reveals, something else entirely — doing waterfall in an agile manner – which as many studies show, rarely ends well.

The Digital-Native Organization

Digital transformation is important now because what constituted a successful business model or best practices in the past are becoming or have already become irrelevant.

In the past, organizations were mainly organization-centric, focusing on getting it right internally before releasing products and service to the market.

Digital-Native organizations are customer-centric, releasing products early and often and able to incorporate customer feedback into future iterations of their products and services.

Because of this difference, the hard work of traditional organizations spend developing a competitive advantage over years, decades even, can be swiped off the map by a start-up that is digitally native, equipped with a digital business model and a culture of customer-centricity.

But never fear! Because the research that has been in done in the field of Digital Transformation is wide and deep, and thanks to these great authors, you don’t have read every peer-reviewed article on the subject to become a change agent: no matter your position in your organization.


Building the Agile Business through Digital Transformation

This first book, published in 2017, is an excellent place to start if you are an executive in a large organization and are interested in jump-starting your organization’s digital transformation.

What I love about this book is that mentions in a very applicable and approachable way nearly every academic article I read while obtaining my Master’s Degree in Digital Innovation & Management.

Everything from Schumpeter’s ‘gale of creative destruction’ to Boston Consulting Group’s DICE mathematical formula for accessing the risk of failure in program execution, this book dives into the depth of knowledge available to define agility, present agile innovation processes, and turn the corner to achieve the cultural change necessary to successfully transform your organization to a Digital-Native.

Perkin, N., & Abraham, P. (2017). Building the agile business through digital transformation. Kogan Page Publishers.

Radical Business Model Transformation: Gaining the Competitive Edge in a Disruptive World

This book is can be a vital tool for executive management used to understand the weaknesses of current business models in the face of industry disruption.

Published in 2017, Radical Business Model Transformation offers tools to shift resources and adapt current business practices to bake resilience into new business models and minimize risk in an uncertain environment.

Business model transformation is the prevailing theme of the modern economy. This is required reading for anyone who wants to learn how innovation can create new opportunity & growth.

Bill McDermott, CEO, SAP

Linz, C., Müller-Stewens, G., & Zimmermann, A. (2017) Radical Business Model Transformation: Gaining the Competitive Edge in a Disruptive World. Kogan Page Publishers.

Transform: A Rebel’s Guide for Digital Transformation

This last book is geared towards employees in an organization as opposed to the first two which are focused on helping business leaders understand the problem digital transformation sets out to solve.

Transform is from 2016 and is meant to empower employees who may have a more digital-native mindset than that of the culture of the organization within which they operate, hence the idea of a rebel’s guide.

The hierarchy, the status-quo, these concepts are, by definition, change averse.

McGovern posits that upper management has been overvalued and over-paid for decades and because of this fact, they will be, as a whole, unwilling to jeopardize this current reality in the name of survival.

Therefore, this book can also offer inspiration to rebel leaders in organizations who can recognize the importance of digital transformation in the face of disruptive innovation.

McGovern, G. (2016). Transform: A Rebel’s Guide for Digital Transformation. Silvwe Beach Publishing.