Digital Enterprise #2: Research State-of-Play

Written for FutureEnterprise by Panagiotis Kokkinakos.

We have already seen how the market perceives the Digital Enterprise in one of our previous blog posts. What is equally important is to have a look on how research envisions the same concept. In order to realise such an endeavour, relative research activities on each core component of digital enterprises are reported in the following lines.

Digital Workplace State of Play

The digital workplace encompasses all the technologies people use to get their work done in today’s work environments. Research advances the digital workplaces’ concept in various ways; some of the main including:

  • Collaborative Virtual Workspace: Austin Lee et al. [1] propose a collaborative system, called AnnoScape, in order to facilitate remote work on the same project for multiple persons simultaneously. Several tools have been used already to that direction, like Github [2], Slack [3], even Second Life [4], which are used already to facilitate team collaboration, team communication or meetings from distance.
  • Digital Co-creation Workspaces: GitHub [2], for example, helps people contributing their code on the same project based on tasks, even if they don’t belong to the same organization, in the case of open source projects. Google Drive [5] allows co-creation on office documents. Nitrous.io [6] is an online IDE tool for code authoring that allows simultaneous code editing. Skype [7] and Microsoft work in that direction, with the new Hololens project. Jiannan Li et al. [8] propose a transparent display where people can co-create on the same touch interface. Ideation-oriented tools, with “phygital” forms have been also recommended to facilitate brain-storming sessions [9].
  • Digital Infrastructures: Indexing and basic analytics on business data may perform over Amazon S3 [10] cloud infrastructure with open source systems like ElasticSearch. Other companies may run part of their customer support over Twitter, Forums or Facebook Pages. Relatively, Suhas M. Bhide [11] visualizes for IBM the Front Office Digitization, rethinking the way people connect, interact, transact and engage with institutions, governments and companies.
  • Enterprise Gamification: Marta Rauch [12] describes relative results coming from the business world. Burke Brian [13], working in Gartner Inc. for years, has issued an analytical guide on what gamification is and what it is not, and gives specific examples and advice to companies who are interested in adapting such techniques in their operations and infrastructures.
  • Enterprise Mobile Applications: In relative research, Sunghun Chung et al. [14] find a strong correlation between Enterprise Mobile Applications (EMA) policies, with perceived job performance and creativity.
  • Digital Skills: Chinien and Boutin [15] have developed a relative framework to evaluate the level of digital skills in the Canadian enterprise workplace.

Digital Innovation State of Play

Digital Innovation differs from the digital workspace, as it includes changes and transformation by different collaborators in the value chain, as these components do not change only the way an organization works internally, but may also affect inputs and outputs of it. According to Fichman et al. [16], in order to reach this innovation change, 4 different stages are also required in order to pass the innovation to adopters: discovery, development, diffusion and impact. The main two components of Digital Innovation, in detail, are:

  • Digital Process Innovations: It refers to significant changes in ways that a business runs its operations, because of the effect of IT technology. Such technologies may affect the whole value chain of a company, so that at the end fully digital value chains and supply chains are required to operate. If such innovations succeed, the innovator builds a competitive advantage as he controls the network, while value is spread through the whole network. Practically, such innovations mean integration and standardization of business processes under digital technologies, like decision support systems, deeply integrated ERP and CRM systems, and fully automated production lines.
  • Digital Product and Business Model Innovations: Business Model Innovations are changes in the way an organization generates value; in the aspect these innovations are realized through IT, they refer as Digital Business Model Innovations. One of the most important transformations in a business model through digital technologies, is the digitization of the product. On the level that such a transformation is feasible, complete markets may be disrupted. For products that cannot be digitized completely, there is the term of Enhanced Offerings that may apply. Enhanced offerings are hybrid, physical products that are accompanied by a digital service.

Digital Leadership & Strategy State of Play

Digitization of products, digital infrastructures, new digital business models, familiarity with digital technologies (i.e. digital skills), and digital values chains, drive companies towards a digital leadership, where high level management and executives can take decisions based on data, can design more detailed, digital strategies based on forecasts and complete big-data analyses, and disseminate the strategies to different departments more easily, because of the digital workspace nature.

Bharadwaj Anandhi et al. [17] identify four key themes of a digital business strategy: (1) the scope of the digital business strategy, (2) the scale of the digital business strategy, (3) the speed of the digital business strategy, and (4) the sources of business value creation and capture in the digital business strategy; digital strategies may cover a broader area, focus on more important changes, apply faster and identify the true components of its business more easily.

The main source available in the digital era is the information available, under the name “big data”, the increasingly open sourced algorithms and the low cost infrastructures where relative systems can run to analyse both internal and external data. Such data-driven organizations can develop digital intelligence, thus Business Intelligence (BI) based on digital traces, where humans can add their incentives, social intelligence and creative directions, while the complete management process is based on business agents. Thus, Digital Leadership in the digital era promotes data-driven decisions, faster deployments and tests/experimentations, and faster diffusion of information/knowledge across all the segments and departments of the company. The basic prerequisite of this is a transparent policy that allows all employees to take fully-analysed decisions, knowing that the power is on the company, the data and the execution capabilities of the workforce, rather than on secret implementations and patents of the company.

As a concluding remark, we can definitely claim that research activity is particularly active in the last few years in many domains that digital enterprises can benefit from. Both existing enterprises that wish to digitally transform and advance, as well as new enterprises that want to be born as digital ones should closely monitor relevant research results and advancements, in order to take full advantage of innovative findings and developments.

Digital technologies are seen by researchers as a means towards evolving the traditional enterprise not only superficially, but actually evolving the enterprise’s DNA itself. The way that enterprises incise their strategy, the way that decisions are taken, as well as the actual products and services themselves can all by disrupted by digital technologies.

The annihilation of geographical barriers through virtualization of working and collaboration spaces, the actual mobility of the enterprise itself, the disruption of existing business models through the heavy exploitation of digital concepts and technologies constitute only some of the advancements studied, proposed and put forward by research initiatives towards making the digital enterprise concept a reality. Thus, it is no surprise that enterprises like Amazon, Google and Microsoft lead this race.

References

[1] Austin Lee, Hiroshi Chigira, Sheng Kai Tang, Kojo Acquah, Hiroshi Ishii. 2014. AnnoScape: Remote Collaborative Review Using Live Video Overlay in Shared 3D Virtual Workspace. SUI’14, October 4-5, 2014, Honolulu, HI, USA.

[2] https://github.com/

[3] https://slack.com/?clean=1

[4] http://secondlife.com/

[5] https://drive.google.com/drive

[6] https://www.nitrous.io/

[7] http://www.skype.com/

[8] Jiannan Li , Saul Greenberg , Ehud Sharlin , Joaquim Jorge. 2014. Interactive Two-Sided Transparent Displays: Designing for Collaboration. DIS 2014, June 21–25, 2014, Vancouver, BC, Canada

[9] Florian Geyer, Ulrike Pfeil, Anita Höchtl, Jochen Budzinski, Harald Reiterer. 2011. Designing Reality-Based Interfaces for Creative Group Work. C&C’11, November 3–6, 2011, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

[10] https://aws.amazon.com/s3/

[11] Suhas M. Bhide. 2013. Front Office Transformation – Globally Integrated Enterprise and “Front Office” going Digital. ISEC ’13, February 21-23 2013, New Delhi, India.

[12] Marta Rauch . 2013. Best Practices for Using Enterprise Gamification to Engage Employees and Customers. M. Kurosu (Ed.): Human-Computer Interaction, Part II, HCII 2013, LNCS 8005, pp. 276–283, 2013. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

[13] Burke Brian. 2014. Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things. Bibliomotion Inc. 1st Edition

[14] Sunghun Chung, Kyung Young Lee, Jinho Choi. 2014. Exploring digital creativity in the workspace: The role of enterprise mobile applications on perceived job performance and creativity.  0747-5632/ 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[15] Chinien. Chris, Boutin France. 2011. Defining Essential Digital Skills in the Canadian Workplace: Final Report.

[16] Robert G. Fichman, Brian L. Dos Santos, Zhiqiang (Eric) Zheng. 2014. N. Jindal School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Digital innovation as a fundamental and powerful concept in the information systems curriculum. MIS Quarterly Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 329-353/June 2014.

[17] Bharadwaj Anandhi, Omar A. El Sawy, Paul A. Pavlou, N. Venkatraman. 2013. Digital business strategy: toward a next generation of insights. MIS Quarterly Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 471-482/June 2013.

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