Digital transformation vs. business innovation: the chicken or the egg?

Digital & IT

chicken or egg.jpgIn our digital age, new technologies are being developed nonstop. The question is to what extent these technologies introduce innovation to companies – or is it the other way round? Our professor Steven De Haes shed some light on the matter for CxO Magazine. We’ve compiled his 7 most important statements on digital innovation.


  • “People like to talk about ‘digital transformation’ but there is often a strong focus on ‘sexy’ front-end innovations when the internal workings of organizations and their relationship with partners also provide ample opportunities”.
  • “Digital transformation is not a one-off operation. It is a journey that consists of many stages. Far too many of the keynote speeches on digital transformation are limited to classic examples such as Uber and Airbnb”.
  • “Organizations should not only invest in technology but also build the competencies to make the right choices for those investments. Unfortunately digitization projects are often set up purely from an IT point of view. Upon completion of the project, the board is forced to conclude that the end result is not what they asked for”.
  • “The question is what digital transformations we need within the context of a specific business strategy and/or business model(s). As this is primarily a question of value in use, it is the responsibility of the general manager. Guiding organizations in the implementation of this technology is something that starts at a management level, and honing their IT skills is an important first step”.
  • “Change management is becoming extremely important because the corporate culture must be adjusted to working with these new technologies, not vice versa”.
  • “Year reports show that IT and digital are a topic of discussion but often only in the aftermath of an incident, making it a very reactive approach. Digital transformation demands precisely the opposite: a proactive approach where, based on your corporate strategy and macroeconomic environment, you monitor changes and look at how technology impacts your clients, suppliers and your competitive position. There’s still a long way to go in that regard”.
  • “As such, the method these organizations use to realize these transformations are not more time-consuming than business process re-engineering or e-business. The management skills are identical but the technologies – Internet of Things, Big Data, the cloud, connectivity – have created new possibilities that didn’t exist previously. As a result, a fast and appropriate response to these evolutions is essential”.

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