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Organisational structures for digital transformation: 4 archetypes emerge

George Nott | Sept. 7, 2017
IDC has identified four models companies can adopt to achieve their transformation strategies – but which is best?

“It’s purpose is to figure out what should our priorities be for the organisation and bring some kind of coordination together.”

The ‘Office of’ model was the most common approach at present within businesses in the region, and identified in half of Asia Pacific companies. This figure is similar to the US (46 per cent) and Europe (56 per cent).


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“In this model we start to see the shift away from a central group and into putting more of the resources into the lines of business. That doesn’t mean the central group goes away, in some cases you still see the central group, but it’s much more lightweight. The central group mainly is the expertise centre for digital for the company, they may do some targeted experimentation,” Whalen said.

“The point of this one is that people start to own digital. Digi starts to become part of the way business is done.”

This archetype has been identified by IDC as the optimum model for businesses going through a digital transformation.

“Maybe you do have to march through these various steps in order to get there. But this is where we think business need to get to. We need to get digital away from being a special project we’re working on and into something that is just business as usual,” Whalen said.

It is also one of the most difficult to achieve.

“You’re moving from a centralised group that is collaborating with the business groups to actually now saying digital is going to be part of all of our business, it’s just how we do business. And to do that you really have to get all of the various lines of business in order,” Whalen added.

“That’s a matrixed organisation. You can’t just hand it out and tell the organisation ‘ok, go and behave digitally’. You still need some coordination activity to go on. And so you run into: how do you do that quickly? How do you assign financial targets so business units take ownership? How do you make sure you have one cohesive strategy across the organisation? If you’re really going to move, the whole business has to be marching to one common strategy.”

IDC’s Meredith Whalen: "You can’t just hand it out and tell the organisation ‘ok, go and behave digitally’."
IDC’s Meredith Whalen: "You can’t just hand it out and tell the organisation ‘ok, go and behave digitally’."

In this advanced archetype, Asia Pacific businesses are somewhat behind their global counterparts. Only 14 per cent of APAC companies were identified as having this model compared with 20 per cent in Europe and 25 per cent in the US.


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