Becoming a Digital Organization: The Journey to Digital Dexterity

26 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2015 Last revised: 6 Jan 2016

See all articles by Deborah L. Soule

Deborah L. Soule

MIT Sloan School of Management

Akshita Puram

Capgemini Consulting; MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy

George F. Westerman

MIT Sloan School of Management

Didier Bonnet

IMD

Date Written: January 5, 2016

Abstract

As the digital age unfolds, executives face new strategic choices about how to take advantage of fast-moving technology innovations. Prior research showed that value comes not simply from adopting digital technology, but from using technology to transform the way a company does business. But while the term “digital transformation” is much in vogue, relatively less attention is paid to the design of the organization that must fulfill the chosen digital strategies. New digitally-enabled possibilities for designing, organizing, and managing productive work challenge leaders to make choices about how to operate (organizational design choices) as well as what to produce (strategic choices).

This paper builds on interview and survey data from over 150 organizations to develop a model of digital organizational design. We identify a core set of organizational characteristics (including mindsets, practices and resources) that underpin enterprise development of Digital Capability to improve customer experience, internal operations or employee engagement. We introduce the concept of Digital Dexterity, the sustained organizational ability to rapidly adapt and self-organize to take advantage of emerging digital possibilities, and show that these same organizational characteristics are associated with digital dexterity. We argue that in a digital economy where technologies continue to improve exponentially, digital dexterity is the hallmark of a true Digital Organization. In order to build an enterprise for long term digital advantage, executives need to cultivate the unique set of characteristics of a Digital Organization that collectively enable both Digital Capability and Digital Dexterity.

Keywords: digital organization, digital dexterity, digital transformation, organization design

Suggested Citation

Soule, Deborah L. and Puram, Akshita and Westerman, George F. and Bonnet, Didier, Becoming a Digital Organization: The Journey to Digital Dexterity (January 5, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2697688 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2697688

Deborah L. Soule (Contact Author)

MIT Sloan School of Management ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States
617-324-9620 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/ide/

Akshita Puram

Capgemini Consulting ( email )

623 5th Ave #33
New York, NY 10022
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.capgemini-consulting.com

MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy ( email )

245 First Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/ide/

George F. Westerman

MIT Sloan School of Management ( email )

245 First Street, E94-1513
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-2939 (Phone)

Didier Bonnet

IMD ( email )

Ch. de Bellerive 23
P.O. Box 915
CH-1001 Lausanne
Switzerland

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