No, this is not a post about electricity or rock music—it’s something with more immediacy for business today. It’s about advanced technologies and culture (AC) and the Digital Collective (DC). There has been a lot of discussion on this forum about technologies that make up the digital enterprise (social, mobile, cloud, analytics, IoT, UX, etc.), and the importance of culture. But what is a Digital Collective?
Consider the case of an insurance company launching a new product that combines an existing annuity with wealth management services, essentially cobbling together an offering from two very different divisions. Enterprise marketing is asked to create a campaign around the launch. Marketing owns the content (product and pricing information) and is focused on increasing engagement, reach, loyalty, and online transactions. The product management team owns the enabling systems of (customer) engagement and the business workflow. The wealth and annuities divisions have a say in how their legacy IT functions and systems of engagement need to be altered for the new product to be serviced.
So when corporate IT begins to align its digital investments to enable this product, who should they take direction from? (Keep in mind that corporate IT is almost always burdened by existing technical debt.) The answer is that representatives from all of the groups must come together to form a DC.
Beyond servicing individual divisional agendas, the role of the DC is evangelism of a sort—creating a cohesive strategy and roadmap for digital transformation. This includes plans for employing advanced technologies in collaboration with corporate IT and fostering a strong digital culture through HR and other related divisions.
The DC can also help align enterprise business priorities and marketing campaigns to digital investments and track financial ROI. Each division involved in the collective can contribute some of its funds into a pool, thereby reducing redundant spend and creating stronger financial muscle for more impactful business outcomes. Divisions can provide their specialist skills for specific projects that are on the roadmap. The collective can also partner with a digital partner/SI firm to help glue together disparate constituents and expedite roadmap execution.
The question of who really owns the enterprise’s digital agenda (aside from the CEO) remains a topic of hot debate. Some say it’s the CMO; others say it’s the CIO, the CTO, or the CDO (chief digital officer). Every organization has a unique culture and takes a completely different approach to business and technology investments, so such debates are to be expected. What’s important is to recognize that the key to successful digital initiatives is a collective, collaborative approach that includes all stakeholders. In other words, every enterprise needs a Digital Collective.