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Thinking About Enterprise Mobility, Digital Transformation and Doctrine

How do you change the traditional culture of a large multinational organization?

Last week I was in Europe speaking and teaching enterprise mobility and digital transformation strategies.  I worked with several large multinational companies where I heard the same questions asked, "How do we convince our executives that we must change, and invest in change?  How do we establish a culture of innovation, capable of winning in a world of digital transformation?"  The change they were referring to had to do with the convergence of the physical world with the digital and its impact on markets.  These changes are introducing new ways of selling, marketing, manufacturing and moving products in a digital world that is rapidly being transformed as a result of innovations in social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies.  We are seeing entire industries and marketplaces turned upside down as a result of these innovations.  How can companies deal with all these changes at the pace required to remain competitive?

I have been pondering those questions since.  How do you change the traditional culture of a large multinational organization with institutionalized ways of planning, operating and decision-making that were developed and codified in a different era?   An era that was operating at a far slower operational tempo.

The people attending my sessions last week understood their marketplaces were changing.  They also understood that their companies were not aligned with those changes, or the pace of those changes.  They expressed sincere and deep concern about these changes.  You could see they were challenged with how to move forward.

We have some examples of change and transformative experiences.  We have seen these levels of change happen in modern militaries over the past couple of decades where they recognized an urgent need to re-invent themselves.  They realized a need to change and implement new organizational structures, prioritize budgets differently, develop new strategies and technologies in order to remain relevant.  There was and is a big difference between the needs of the cold war era, where armies were lined up across from each other along the Iron Curtain, and the requirements of modern, geographically dispersed battlefields of today.

Militaries recognized a new level of importance around information collection, processing, analyzing, reporting, sharing and collaboration.  They labeled information logistics the 5th dimension of warfare.

They recognized the value and implemented "network centric operational" approaches that put a premium on information sharing, speed, innovation, swarming and agility.

When military organizations recognize that battlefield requirements have changed significantly and that new ways of thinking will be required to be successful, they begin a transformational process that starts with developing a high level doctrine that communicates a new way of thinking across the organization.  I believe this is also what is needed in commercial enterprises today.  Management must identify the "new-way-of-thinking" that is required to compete successfully in a transforming marketplace.

What do I mean by enterprise doctrine?  I define enterprise doctrine as a way of thinking, a common frame of reference across an organization. It provides an organization with an authoritative body of statements on how the business should operate and provides a common lexicon for use by planners and managers.  It is a formal expression of best practices which covers the nature of competition, research and development and go-to-market strategies for winning in the marketplace.  It does not provide a checklist of procedures or tactics, but is rather an authoritative guide, describing how the enterprise thinks about business and marketplace competition.

From the top down, management must define how the organization should think about things like innovation, mobility, digital transformation, big data and competition.  This enterprise doctrine should be obvious in every program, project, campaign, product and service within the company.

An enterprise doctrine may include clear statements like:

  • Mobility is where we find, attract, market, sell, transact, collaborate with and service our customers, employees, suppliers and partners.
  • The digital transformation of our marketplace is real and will drastically alter the competitive landscape and create new winners and losers.  We will embrace these changes by rapidly transforming our strategies and processes to meet these changes and to be a winner.
  • Competition will be intense and winners will be those better able to collect, transmit, process, analyze, report and collaborate around real-time data.  Our information logistics systems will be superior to our competition, and we will invest appropriately to achieve and maintain this superiority.
  • We recognize a need to rapidly respond to market and consumer behavior changes at a pace never before seen.  As a result, we will organize ourselves for agility, speed and real-time decision-making.  We will develop and optimize our infrastructures, organizations, manufacturing, supply chains and logistical systems for maximum agility and speed to market.
  • We will develop a culture that encourages collaboration, innovation, creativity and promotes good ideas rapidly through a well-defined innovation process that supports Cognizant's motto of, "Think big, start small, fail fast, scale quickly."


Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant View my profile on LinkedIn Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict Browse the Mobile Solution Directory Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated Senior Analyst at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work, SAP Mentor Alumnus, speaker, writer, and mobile and digital strategies expert. He is a popular keynote speaker, and in the past three years he has shared his insights into mobile and digital strategies with companies in 17 different countries. He has over 30 years of experience working with enterprise applications, and he is a veteran mobile industry executive. He wrote the Forward to SAP Press' bestselling book on enterprise mobility titled Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP, and he has written over 3,000 articles.

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