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Digitalization and beyond: everything revolves around the pace of change

Digitalization refers to “the adoption or increase in use of digital or computer technology by an organization, industry, country, etc.” (The Oxford English Dictionary)

During the past decades there have been various breakpoints in technological developments that we now already indicate as eras: the PC era, the Internet era and the smartphone era. And the developments continue, before too long we will start talking about the next era, perhaps the ‘nano era’ or the ‘data-analytics era’ or, as it now appears, the ‘wearables era’. What will our world look like in 10, 20 or 30 years from now as a result of these technological developments?

People, organizations, industries and our global society continue to change with the introduction of new technologies. Almost every business model is currently ‘hacked’ by technological developments. Look for instance at the redundancies announced in the financial sector, the recent bankruptcies of large retailers such as V&D and Macintosh, the many vacant offices and the empty premises in shopping streets.

The future of individual organizations stands or falls with the manner in which the organizations implement their (digital) strategy, everything revolves around the pace of change. Managers, directors and supervisory directors know how essential ‘technology success’ is for the future of their organization. There is much attention among directors and supervisory directors for Good Governance. It is incomprehensible that there is still so little attention for Technology Governance. It is time to think about the most important technological developments in the coming decades. After all, successfully applying and monitoring the correct technologies determines the success and thereby the future.

How do managers, directors and supervisory directors keep their eyes open for the future? To do this they must be able to shake off their daily environment and develop a deeper understanding of how technology and other megatrends are changing the world. They will also have to have a basic insight into the technological possibilities and the manner in which these can be implemented: what does the theory say, how do you apply it, what do the specialists say about it, how do other organizations deal with it, what are their experiences, what can we learn from each other?

Changes within existing organizations take place gradually. Even though the engineer in me says that we should apply as much technology as fast as possible in the organization, the social scientist in me feels that it is better to follow the pace of the people in the environment in which they want to work and live. In my opinion, during the implementation of new technology we often put too much emphasis on the implementation itself. It is not only about implementing, it is also about acceptance and adoption. It is noticeable that successful technology companies pay a great deal of attention to this aspect. From this vision the acceptance and adoption and thereby the pace of change will indeed be much greater.

Project success or failure, in particular failed IT projects, receive a great deal of attention in the press. The impression is thereby created that we do not know how to make a success of projects, but nothing is further from the truth. The necessary instruments are available and are applied in the field by many organizations.

Everyone knows the saying ‘trust is good but control is better’. Experience shows that trust in one’s own capability and cooperation are important preconditions for successful change. But indeed, the organization is really strengthened when this is combined with the correct level of control. It is time that management and supervisory directors also realise this for themselves and demonstrate this during the assignment definition and organization of projects.

I am convinced that the speed and result of large technology projects is a choice. It obviously places demands on the attitude and professionalism of the entire organization but also on Good Governance. It is now time to include Technology Governance as an actual component of this Good Governance. Because if organizations are prepared to really go for success, then they are also successful. This is proved in practice.

Hans Donkers