Instilling Digital Culture—a Common Challenge for Companies and Universities
Pierre Nanterme, Chairman and CEO,
Accenture and Jean-Michel Blanquer, Dean
and President of ESSEC Business School
We are in the midst of an unprecedented revolution that is disrupting the economy and management at lightning speed. Today, the major challenge for all companies is digital transformation. And indeed, the changes underway are radical, rapid and profound
We are not witnessing just one digital revolution, but multiple digital revolutions that are taking place as technologies reach maturity (e.g., interactive marketing, big data, cloud, 3D, artificial intelligence, blockchain). Other technologies will certainly follow.
This is not just a concern for a few specialists, but for everybody, because all sectors, all activities, all corporate functions and, therefore, all jobs are affected. This is true not only for companies but for society as a whole. It’s why this digital revolution has been called The Fourth Industrial Revolution by the World Economic Forum.
The first wave of the digital revolution was around eCommerce and customer experience: design thinking, interactive marketing, mobile solutions and data analysis all allow for an increasingly personalized multi-channel customer relationship. The second wave is the digitization of corporate functions to enhance operational efficiency and cost flexibility, such as IT management in the cloud and process automation.
The next and most transformative wave will be the digitization of operations: Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, blockchain, which will allow new productivity gains (e.g., predictive maintenance of machines by analyzing embedded data, augmented reality support for technicians) while creating new services, such as autonomous cars and connected cities.
At the heart of these transformations, new professions (e.g., data analysis, cyber security, customer experience) are emerging and, above all, new ways of working and interacting, new economic and organizational models, and new levers of innovation are being created.
In a world that is at the same time open, complex and uncertain, the major challenge for companies is to understand all the implications, especially managerial, of these digital revolutions. Therefore, the managers' responsibility is to create, structure and disseminate within their teams a digital culture, which should be a unifying element and a foundation of the company of tomorrow, much like its mission and values.
In this context, younger generations have a special role to play in companies: they need to be the spearheads of the digital transformation and the champions of this new culture.For the company, this means listening to and understanding the concerns and expectations of younger generations, and adapting accordingly so that they can express their talents, creativity and value. The current development of "EdTech" owes a lot to young people who have recently graduated from school or university.The digital revolution has also created a path for new educational models. Students entering higher education must therefore prepare themselves to become agents of change. From now on, acquiring a digital culture must be at the core of all types of higher education, be it engineering school, management education, medical school, artistic disciplines, or even the human and social sciences, as the societal implications of the ongoing changes are considerable. This also applies to technical and vocational training.
To meet this challenge, ESSEC Business School has transformed its educational offerings by creating specialized training courses, such as the Accenture Chair in Strategic Business Analytics, and through the evolution of its MBA program. This new top-level program, offered in both France and Singapore, is resolutely focused on the challenges of business transformation, with a choice of six majors corresponding to broad fields of activity: Finance, Strategy and Management, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Luxury Brand Management, Hospitality Management and Digital Business. The program enables young professionals to acquire a strong digital culture and merge it with their professional skills as they look to the future.
This combination is the key to creating value for business and building a successful career. And indeed, designing an academic program and a diploma to answer the most important questions of our time is the most fundamental task of an educational and research institution.