Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT 2015: The digital transformation demands changes now!

With less than three weeks to go for the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT 2015 it’s about time to write a little post about the ideas and thoughts behind this year’s agenda. As this post is a make-over of an earlier “end-of-year review” draft it reflects also the discussions of last year’s event that led to the making of the agenda for the upcoming Paris event.

It’s about time to get real about the digital transformation!

We are in the midst of the “Second Machine Age” as MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee have stated. This means the advances in computer processing, artificial intelligence, networked communication and the digitization are changing the economic systems sustainedly – with no way to return. The digitalized enterprise within a digitalized economic market system is therefore the logical next step in the economic evolution. Certainly the scope of the digitalization is different in regards to the industries – but even my local bakery is not unaffected of it.

Many economic and society-related struggles and problems can be related to this transition from the industrial age to this “second machine age”. So there should be no question about “why” we should talk about the digital transformed enterprise and its economic and organizational structures. Instead we have to talk about the design of this new digital paradigm – that is not only increasing the shareholder value of a few but also supports the overall increase of welfare and well-being of many.

For this we have to question the existing structures and patterns of the enterprise – and “how” to make it work. The concept of “social software” and its enablement for new forms of knowledge sharing and collaboration provides an important tool to support this change and transformation as well as new design patterns for the demands of the digital age (e.g. openness and emergence).

In this regards “social software” is not more but also not less than a tool for the digital transformation itself and the design of the digitalized enterprise. With this in mind the perspective of the discussions around the terms of “Enterprise 2.0” and “Social” has to move to a new level – from discussing the improvements of the collaborative behavior within the existing organizational structure towards the discussion of the transition management and the new design of the future model of the “digital enterprise”.

This is why we set the key theme of this year’s “Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT” to the phrase of “designing the digital transformation” as the term “digital transformation” includes both the process of change and final state of the future model.

Riding the digital transformation wave means adding new organizational objectives!

Digital enterprises in a digitalized market environment have to rethink their organizational objectives as the digitalized competition is faster, cheaper, more global and more adaptive. This questions the existing organizational patterns like management-driven hierarchies, top-down marketing approaches and closed innovations.

In contrary to these traditional patterns the digital transformation imposes task-driven collaboration networks, customer orientation and openness as new design patterns for the economic system of the future. But while digital becomes more and more the backbone and driver of the economic system, the new organizational objectives must be seen complementary as a change-orientated design pattern to the organization to the old ones.

Authors like John Kotter (with his book “Accelerate (XLR8)”) call it the “dual operating system” with an open task-driven and bottom-up collaboration network adding more market effectiveness and performance to the management-driven organization that is focused on efficiency.

In the first track of this year’s „Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT“ we are therefore discussing best-practices that are trying to add new organizational principles to the existing systems – like increasing the overall collaborative performance, enhancing the responsiveness and customer orientation or supporting buttom-up engagement in the organization.

Transforming the work organization means evolving into a constant state of change!

As mentioned at the beginning of the article the digital transformation is an on-going phenomenon – not a one-time change process with a clearly defined final state. As the advances in digital technology have not a predicted ending there cannot be a clearly defined idea of the future economic system. Therefore the journey of the digital transformation and the interrelated change of the work organization must be perceived as constant state of change.

This said the organizational excellence is also very much dependent on the change management excellence in the future. Keeping people happy in a constant state of change is a new organizational challenge – as this is very demanding on the individual and organizational level. Innovative practices to help people get used to this and handle the on-going transition state are key for the success in the digital age.

Social software supports the change process in a new and more transparent way than any change intervention approaches before. Rightly introduced it provides the chance to make change sustainable – or at least to lessen the effect of backdrops to old routines. But the collaboration via social software also provides its own challenges as the positive effects of the tools are not obvious beforehand.

The second track at this year’s “Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT” therefore discusses once more the key success factors of the introduction and establishment of social software within the organization. It discusses practices of adoption and adaptation approaches, engagement management and transition approaches regarding the change of the organizational structures.

Designing the digital transformation means finding a new meaningfulness for the organization!

Last but not least the digital transformation demands a re-thinking of the management and leadership model. As authors like Kotter have stated this future model might not be substitutive but complementary, but it has its one new challenges and principles.

John P. Kotters sees key change management patterns like the institutionalization of change within a guiding coalition (steering comitee), a clearly defined vision of a new opportunity or the storytelling of quick wins as the success factors. Gary Hamel proclaims organizational patterns like openness, decentralization, autonomy and trust as the key values for his future version of management. Both in common is the rediscovery of the meaningfulness of the organization for its members.

In the third track of the “Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT” we have invited experts and forethinkers to an open discussion about the principles and values of the future management and leadership approach. Our vision of this track is to work collectively on the principles for the “Enterprise 2.0 Management”.

This also leads to the answer why we still hold on to the term of the “Enterprise 2.0” in the name of the event – and therefore opposing the general consensus that “Enterprise 2.0 is dead”. For us the “Enterprise 2.0” is more than the establishment of some social collaboration tools in the company. It’s the change to the digital enhanced collaboration within the organization – including therefore the technological enabler and the new organizational patterns.

We are very much looking forward to this 8th edition of the conference – with some outstanding experts like Dion Hinchcliffe or Rawn Shah and digital leaders from the corporate world like Frédéric Lippi (from LIPPI) or Laurie Miller (BayerMaterialScience) discussing their experiences and insights.

Looking forward to also welcome you at the conference! Until Jan 19 there is still a chance of a reduced ticket for the conference!