Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation

Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation
By George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, Andrew McAfee

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Product Description

Become a Digital Master—No Matter What Business You’re In

If you think the phrase “going digital” is only relevant for industries like tech, media, and entertainment—think again. In fact, mobile, analytics, social media, sensors, and cloud computing have already fundamentally changed the entire business landscape as we know it—including your industry. The problem is that most accounts of digital in business focus on Silicon Valley stars and tech start-ups. But what about the other 90-plus percent of the economy?

In Leading Digital, authors George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee highlight how large companies in traditional industries—from finance to manufacturing to pharmaceuticals—are using digital to gain strategic advantage. They illuminate the principles and practices that lead to successful digital transformation. Based on a study of more than four hundred global firms, including Asian Paints, Burberry, Caesars Entertainment, Codelco, Lloyds Banking Group, Nike, and Pernod Ricard, the book shows what it takes to become a Digital Master. It explains successful transformation in a clear, two-part framework: where to invest in digital capabilities, and how to lead the transformation. Within these parts, you’ll learn:

• How to engage better with your customers
• How to digitally enhance operations
• How to create a digital vision
• How to govern your digital activities

The book also includes an extensive step-by-step transformation playbook for leaders to follow.

Leading Digital is the must-have guide to help your organization survive and thrive in the new, digitally powered, global economy.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #51415 in Books
  • Brand: imusti
  • Published on: 2014-10-14
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 9.75" h x 6.25" w x 1.25" l, 1.08 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 256 pages


  • Harvard Business School Press

Editorial Reviews


“This is not simply a book for digital-only companies, but rather a book for all companies who want to learn to amplify revenue figures via digital channels.” — 800 CEO READ

ADVANCE PRAISE for Leading Digital:

Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital and Social Media, Nestlé—
“Successful transformation of your organization to digital doesn’t just happen—you need to lead it. Leading Digital shows the key elements and processes that have made Digital Masters out of companies around the globe, in many different industries, not just high-tech. A must-read.”

Michael Tushman, professor, Harvard Business School; coauthor, Winning Through Innovation—
“The days when senior executives could delegate technology issues to their technology people are over. Digital leadership capability is essential to thriving in a world of fast-changing technologies. Westerman, Bonnet, and McAfee provide a clear and readable guidebook to help any leader or manager play an effective role in turning technology challenges into transformation opportunities, both now and in the future.”

Joe Tucci, Chairman and CEO, EMC Corp.—
“To stay relevant in this new, always-connected digital universe, businesses in virtually every industry are reinventing their business models for unprecedented customer access, interaction, speed, and scale. Leading Digital shows how transformative companies are navigating this disruptive era successfully—and why others are falling behind.”

Pierre Pringuet, Vice Chairman of the Board and CEO, Pernod Ricard—
“Leading Digital provides comprehensive, fact-based insights into how multinational companies can leverage digital technology to transform their businesses’ performance. In this book, the authors provide not only the inspiration, but also the practical guidance required for CEOs to successfully navigate this complex transformation.”

Erik Brynjolfsson, professor, MIT Sloan School; Director, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy; and coauthor, The Second Machine Age—
“Technologies—whether based on stone, steel, or software—are tools. They deliver results only when wielded effectively. Westerman, Bonnet, and McAfee’s careful and insightful research reveals the patterns common to the most effective leaders of the digital revolution and shows how they are using digital technologies to deliver impressive results.”

Charlene Li, founder and CEO, Altimeter Group; author, Open Leadership; and coauthor, Groundswell—
“Digital is no longer the responsibility of a few tech-savvy executives—in the age of digital customers, it needs to be the responsibility of every leader in the organization. Leading Digital provides a blueprint for digital transformation.”

About the Author

George Westerman is a Research Scientist in the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. His research and teaching help senior executives drive competitive advantage with digital technology. He is coauthor of two award-winning books: The Real Business of IT (2009) and IT Risk (2007).

Didier Bonnet is a Senior Vice President at Capgemini Consulting, where he serves as Global Practice Leader and heads Capgemini Consulting’s Digital Transformation program. He has more than twenty-five years’ experience in strategy, internet economics, globalization, and business transformation for large corporations.

Andrew McAfee is Co-Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. He has also held appointments at Harvard Business School and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In 2008, McAfee was named number 38 on the Ziff Davis list of the “100 Most Influential People in IT.” He was also named one of the fifty most influential people in business IT, by Baseline Magazine. He is coauthor of The Second Machine Age (2014) and Race Against the Machine (2011), and the author of Enterprise 2.0 (2009).

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful.
4Long on description of the digital, covers a lot of ground; but too often only hints at digital reality,
By Mark P. McDonald
Leading Digital represents the culmination of a multi-year study of digital technologies impact on the organization. This makes Leading Digital different, in the sense that other books on the subject either concentrate on technology hype, product innovation or disruption. By focusing on the organizational impact of digital, Westerman, Bonnet and McAfee, create a simple, clear and compelling framework for categorizing companies and their attitudes toward digital technology.

Characterizing an entire company as either a Beginner, Conservative, Fashionista or Digital Master provides an executive short hand that appears highly effective on the surface, but quickly leads one to ask, ok but what do I do? The advices provided in the book borders not the self evident, i.e.: beginners are slow to adapt and have the basic digital capabilities while fashionistas are buying every new digital bauble.

That is one of the points holding this book back from a five star review, is that it presumes a monolytic attitude toward digital in order to simplify its messages. This treatment is appropriate for a book intended to drive client conversations for a consulting company.

The books chapters encompass the range of organizational and leadership topics related to digital transformation. The section titles reflect this:

Part 1 - building digital capabilities covers the customer experience, their link to core operations (aka legacy) and the business model.

Part 2 -- focuses internally on the vision, organizational engagement, governance and technology leadership.

Part 3 -- concentrates on digital transformation from strategic framing through mobilization and sustaining a change program.

Taken at this level, the book is rather complete in its topical treatment but the book treats each of these topics somewhat superficially. The case studies read like a who's who of digital transformation but they are mostly stories of success, descriptions of what worked and not a deeper examination of challenges with strategies to over come them. Reading the case studies, of which there are many and a good thing, provides little meat for the reader to chew on.

The case studies, clear and simple framework and clearly written prose are among the strengths of this book. Among its challenges are the observation that many organizations have already moved beyond an organizational characterization into transformative action so the advice is a little dated in places. It was revolutionary when these materials first came out almost two years ago. The clarity of the frameworks also tends toward clear but overly simply advice and actions. Take the 12 steps to being a digital master:

Build Awareness
Define Your Starting Point
Create a Shared Vision
Translate Your Vision into Action
Build your Governance
Fund the Transformation
Signal your Ambitions
Earn the Right to Engage
Set New Behaviors and Evolve Culture
Build Foundation Skills
Align Incentives and Rewards
Measure, Monitor and Iterate

These 12 points apply to any transformation not just digital. You could say the same for implementing ERP, post merger integration or any other significant change. This undercuts an understanding of digital's potential and its disruptive impact. These technologies are fundamentally different than the IT technologies that came before, but its hard to tell that from this book or from the approaches it suggests.

Readers who have digital scars will benefit from the reminders that this book provides. People new to digital can easily be lulled into a false sense of security or alarm as it seems so much like what has come before or that we all must become digital masters tomorrow. Knowing that difference and the nuance it contains is the reason for the length of this review. By focusing on the organization, Westerman, Bonnet and McAfee have created something very accessible, but they have also accepted some limitations on explaining the reality of digital transformation.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
5Excellent guidebook for business and IT execs
By Leif C. Ulstrup
This is an excellent guidebook for business leaders who want to embrace the possibilities of emerging digital technologies and need help getting started, making sure things remain on track for success, and want to sustain the momentum they have created. Both organizational leadership ability and mastery of IT are essential ingredients. Neither alone is sufficient on its own to become a "digital master". A transformative vision of one's business using the potential for new waves of IT and consensus amongst the team at the top (including the person appointed to lead the technology dimension) are the starting point according to the authors. The authors tackle the potential of new digital technologies to transform the customer experience, operations, and enable new lines of business (aka business models in their terminology ). A good read and useful guide for both technical leaders and the business executives they need to partner with. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
5Core business transformation
By Amazon Customer
Great book on digital transformation. Most books on the topic spend their time on the social aspects of the transformation. Leading Digital covers the main aspects: customer engagement, operational efficiency, and business model. In analyzing firms successful in their transformation, the authors specifically focussed on companies based outside the Valley with revenues > $400M. These firms had successful, long-term businesses that they need transition. Well researched with many insights.

See all 54 customer reviews...

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