8 great traits of digital enterprises—and a framework to help activate them


Posted by Arthur Mazor and Kevin Knowles on February 4, 2019.

Digital is quickly evolving from “a way” of operating to “the way” work gets done. Technology is only part of the story, an enabler rather than the end goal. Digital enterprises understand this distinction, exhibiting these eight traits to mature from simply doing digital to being digital.

What do most digital enterprises do?

  1. Think exponentially. Dipping a toe in the digital waters is not going to cut it. Instead, defeat incrementalism within your organization by setting bold goals to achieve factors of 10X impact. “Scaling edges” can help you achieve this kind of dramatic impact.
  2. Create agile execution. Treat digital initiatives like R&D—you’re devising a whole new way of being for your enterprise. Learn to develop and try ideas in short iterative sprints with empowered teams.
  3. Acquire capabilities to catalyze the culture. Of course you want to develop digital capabilities within your current workforce, but to jump-start digital, acquire and hire edge teams to bring design thinking, mobile, digital, creative, and disruptive ideas.
  4. Protect the people. And give them the freedom to innovate and be agile. Ring fence digital teams from layers of bureaucracy, policies, or other compromises not found in a start-up culture.
  5. Customer first. Don’t compromise on the customer experience. Make customer value and delighting the customer the No. 1 priority.
  6. New ideas to solve old industry issues. Don’t be blinded by the status quo. Look for new ideas to solve old industry issues and customer problems.
  7. Applied design. Design is the new differentiator in digital. Diverse teams led by design thinking will create an amazing impact.
  8. Focus on value. Don’t get distracted by all the digital shiny objects. Focus on revenue and key metrics and follow the money.

From knowing to being
Of course, knowing what digital enterprises do is only the first step, and there’s a leap involved to actually doing what they do. It’s important to evaluate digital maturity as an ongoing process—every organization is still maturing digitally, progressing from exploring digital to being digital.


Source: Deloitte Consulting LLP
As noted, many organizations get stuck at the Doing stage. But to really be digital requires cultivating three things: Digital DNA at the core of the business, an enabling environment for the organization to be digital, and the commitment and leadership to drive this change.

Activating the Digital Enterprise looks like this—five nodes clustered around a Digital DNA core and empowered by strong change management:


Source: Deloitte Consulting LLP

  • Adaptable organizations drive work through network-based teams that are cross-functional and agile, with limited hierarchy. Doing so requires new ways of working and capabilities around organizing, teaming, and leading.
  • Work reimagined for the future means fundamentally rethinking how work gets done by embedding advanced digital technologies to augment and automate. This entails redesigning work activities, processes, and roles to determine the winning combinations of humans and their automated “co-workers.”
  • Connected experience involves bringing together the right people for the right work at the right time through consumer-grade experiences that combine virtual and physical workspaces enabled by digital tools to empower and enhance workgroup performance.
  • High-impact HR leads the enterprise’s transformation of work, understands which capabilities to build, buy, or rent, and drives experiences that help workers anticipate, build, and reinvent their capabilities for the future.
  • Open talent workforce creates broader talent possibilities in a more open talent economy, where salaried, gig, and ecosystem partners work together seamlessly to accomplish an enterprise’s imperatives.

How will you know if you’ve arrived?
Being digital means you’ve migrated to a place where you exhibit the 8 great traits and…

… create a more adaptable, nimble enterprise
… have a workforce composed of people working across networked teams
… constantly reimagine the way work gets done
… automate and augment digitally, elevating the human roles to drive innovation
… grow human skills, raising the bar for the work of individuals, teams, and leaders
… access talent from a variety of sources via the open talent economy
… forge connections among the workers in the enterprise so that they’re feeling connected and working connected, virtually and physically, to collaborate, innovate, and make progress faster

A high-impact organization plays a critical role in leading the move to be digital. HR teams with keen workforce transformation leadership and change management capabilities can drive the significant cultural and mind-set shift, lead stakeholder engagement and adoption, and create ownership among people across the business, in every function. Moving enterprises into their digital futures is at the heart of The Future of HR.

Explore more about Activating the digital enterprise and join us in the adventure to the future.

Arthur MazorArthur Mazor, is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, Deloitte’s Human Capital practice digital leader, and the global practice leader for HR Strategy & Employee Experience. Art collaborates with complex, global clients to drive business value through transforming human capital strategies, programs, and services.
Kevin Knowles   Kevin Knowles  is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Human Capital Digital Market Lead. Kevin advises clients on transformative organizational change, operating model development, organizational capability, effective organizational structure, and strategy execution.

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