How to successfully implement digital strategies
In our digital age, companies need more than just a digital footprint to get ahead of the game. Increasingly, many companies—both large and small, established or start-ups—are implementing digital strategies. In implementing a digital strategy, the top management's vision, and direction matter, but those, who participate in the implementation of the strategy, are crucial—that is, all employees.
New research from an international collaboration of researchers from Copenhagen Business School, LUT University, Loughborough University and Free University of Bozen-Bolzano highlights that employees and individual differences matter in digital strategy implementation and that it is useful for managers to consider behavioral differences.
"Mangers should avoid 'blanket approaches' to whom to involve in digital strategy implementation, or at least recognize that there will be performance differences," says Associate Professor Abayomi Baiyere from the Department of Digitalization, Copenhagen Business School.
The research has been published in the Technological Forecasting and Social Change Journal.
The research provides guidance to what types of behavioral orientations are important, and it pinpoints the crucial role of entrepreneurial orientation among employees.
The research is based on a survey study conducted among employees at different levels in a company that was implementing a digital strategy. The researchers worked together with the company to develop the dependent variables regarding digital strategy performance, and in addition utilized variables established and used in previous literature to measure individual entrepreneurial orientation and other aspects that could affect employee performance in strategy implementation.
"Our research highlights a group of behaviors which we label as 'individual entrepreneurial orientation', consisting of proactiveness, risk taking, and innovativeness. An entrepreneurial approach is important when it comes to the implementation of digital technology and related strategies," says Paavo Ritala, Professor of Strategy and Innovation at LUT University, Finland.
The research found that proactive and risk-taking oriented employees in particular were making positive contributions to the performance of the digital strategy across multiple dimensions. However, the researchers also found that innovative-oriented employees performed less well in digital strategy context. This lower performance was highlighted especially when the innovative-oriented employees scored high in relational capital, i.e. they were highly networked with other employees inside the company.
"For instance, a given digital strategy project might require proactive employees during the implementation phase, while innovative-oriented employees could be better suited to the creative development roles in such projects," adds Ritala.
"The aim of this research is to shift the emphasis away from the technology dimension of digitalisation and towards employee orientation as a relevant and non-trivial component in effective digital strategy implementation. In particular, our study suggests that managers should exercise caution and not simply assume that proactiveness, risk-taking, and innovativeness automatically affect digitalisation-related performance positively," Baiyere concludes.