Information systems have always induced major changes to business processes, which made it essential to invest in organizational change along with the technology, says Nicolas van Zeebroeck, Professor of Innovation & Digital Business, Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management. In the course of our research “Rethink, Reinvent, Realize” we talked with Prof. van Zeebroeck about change management and how digital technology affects the performance and organization of firms and industries.

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Nicolas van Zeebroeck

Professor of Innovation & Digital Business, Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management, Université libre de Bruxelles.

Why is organizational change management essential for businesses in the digital era?

Nicolas van Zeebroeck: Information systems have always induced major changes to business processes, which made it essential to invest in organizational change along with the technology. Digital technology today goes even one step beyond by not only imposing new work structures but by also requiring new business models and rapid adjustments to accelerating innovation. The new work, delivery and business models require a new mix of skills, culture and governance that will deeply change existing organizations. Without those complementary investments in organizational change, the technology can simply not deliver tangible results.

Which are the three areas, C-suite executives must focus to build organizations capable of innovating new products and services with digital technologies?

Skills and capabilities first. They involve not only technical skills but also new business modeling and innovation skills. The second element is setting the right infrastructure to run the core processes of the company with strong reliability and predictability while, in parallel, enabling fast innovation and development as well as real-time data-driven decisions and services. And the last area is the development of a digital-ready culture, which involves more risk-taking and experimentation, looser control over the value chain in favor of higher-level coordination of open assets, and a shift of focus from products that wear out to customer-centric solutions.

How are large businesses across the EU transforming their organizations to innovate customer relevant digital value?

Many large businesses in the EU are going after agility, sometime obsessively so, to prepare their organizations for an ever more digital future. The first step is often to set up some agile team or digital office that springs new ideas or solutions. But most of them have a very hard time scaling these initiatives internally (i.e. diffusing agile capabilities across the organization) and externally (i.e. scaling up the new products or services). In many firms, agility remains an abstract concept that should apply to teams, but not entirely integrated and applied by the top management itself where it should start.

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This interview was conducted by Raghav Narsalay, global research for Accenture’s Industry X.0 organization. Reach out to Raghav via LinkedIn

 

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