How to become a ‘Digital Master’: Businesses profit from technology adoption

Large companies in traditional industries, from manufacturing to finance, should adopt digital technology now to gain an advantage over their rivals, according to a new book published by Harvard Business Review Press.

Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation is based on a study of more than 400 large, mainstream organisations and is co-authored by Didier Bonnet, senior vice president of Capgemini Consulting and MIT researchers George Westerman and Andrew McAfee.

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According to the study, companies should undergo a digital transformation now, as the transition will be more difficult in the next decade, with the pace of technological change expected to quicken.

Westerman said that the book focuses particularly on the "90+ per cent of the economy that doesn't do technology for a living."

The companies that were most successful at digital transformation, dubbed "Digital Masters," were generally more successful than their peers. Research conducted by MIT and Capgemini found that, on average, digital masters were 26 per cent more profitable than their competitors and experienced revenue from physical assets that was nine per cent greater.

The book includes more than 100 case studies providing advice on how to become a digital leader. In particular, the study recommends focusing on three key areas: customer experience, operational processes and business models. Companies researched in the book include Burberry, Lloyds Banking Group and Nike.

Firms will also find practical guidance in the form of a step-by-step management guide, helping organisations to mobilise and then sustain any change they ultimately decide to implement.

MIT's Andrew McAfee added that it was important for businesses to become digital masters now, to keep-up with the rate of technological change.

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"Digital Masters keep making digital technologies work for them even though the technologies themselves are constantly changing," he said. "This is an important journey because when it comes to the impact of digital technologies on the business world, we ain't seen nothing yet."