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New INSEAD Study Challenges The Concept Of “Digital”

New INSEAD Study Challenges The Concept Of “Digital”

New INSEAD Study Challenges The Concept Of “Digital”

Key insights and recommendations for 21st century businesses on digitalisation derived from comprehensive global survey


INSEAD, the business school for the world and the business and marketing consultancy this fluid world, today jointly announced the release of a new study, ‘The Real Impact of Digital – As Seen from the “Virtual Coalface”’. The study challenges some of the commonly-held views on ‘digital’ and approaches the topic and its challenges from a fresh perspective informed by a global survey of business leaders and their board members.

Led by Ludo Van der Heyden, INSEAD Chaired Professor of Corporate Governance and Academic Director of INSEAD Corporate Governance Initiative, and Liri Andersson, founder of this fluid world, the quantitative and qualitative research was carried out amongst 1,160 managers, executives and board members across regions representing a wide range of organisations, industries, and functions.

The study provides interesting insights into how digital is perceived by people who are grappling with it on a day-to-day basis, how it is being put to use, and how companies expect to engage with digital in the future. As digitalisation intensifies, it’s a matter of time before companies rethink how to remain competitive and sustainable in the digital world.

“Digital is changing business, organisations and the ways to compete. Speculations about the exact impact of the digital revolution are far and wide-ranging and companies often struggle to find the ‘right solution’. This study confirms that there currently is neither a one-size-fits-all approach nor a single ‘best practice’. Organisations are busy customising digital to suit their business needs and to build distinctive paths for competitive success.” said Professor Ludo Van der Heyden.   

“Digital can’t and shouldn’t be delegated to a person, or a specific department. Digital is business, and business is digital hence it has to be the responsibility of everyone in an organisation - no exceptions made! This is how companies will achieve the necessary transformation to be digitally enabled!” said Liri Anderson, founder of this fluid world.  

Some key insights and recommendations:

  • “Digital” does not have a universal meaning
  • Digital success is primarily about people, management and culture, not technology
  • Engage the entire board in digital
  • Be wary of experts and gurus eager to present “their” solution or mantra
  • Don’t feel the need to create an over-riding digital strategy – you may not need one
  • Business has embraced digital, in multiple ways, but it appears too early to measure the success of digital initiatives

Some survey results:

  • Only 14% of respondents indicated that their company is engaged in “business model transformation” or “digital transformation”
  • Only 1% of Board members stated “digital transformation” as their organisation’s main digital undertaking
  • Only 12% of respondents cited “having the right technology in place” as a critical success factor for digital initiatives
  • 43% of companies are not developing the required managerial capabilities to support the transition to digital
  • 30% of organisations surveyed have no digital strategy

Executives and their Boards of Directors, strategy / IT / organisational experts and consultants looking to gain more awareness of the topic and key decision-makers involved in digital strategic initiatives will benefit from key findings in the study.

The full study is available for download here.

About INSEAD Corporate Governance Initiative (ICGI)

The INSEAD Corporate Governance Initiative (ICGI) harnesses INSEAD’s expertise in multiple disciplines – accounting, finance, economics, strategy, risk-management, entrepreneurship, family governance, organisational behaviour and corporate social responsibility – for a comprehensive and sustainable response to the challenges facing directors today.

ICGI is unique because of INSEAD’s academic emphasis and international outlook. It combines faculty competence and institutional visibility with the aim of: 1- educating international board members to master corporate diversity; 2- conducting research with a global focus and developing innovative pedagogical materials on the most fundamental issues faced by boards; 3- hosting forums of peer-to-peer exchanges to address the many challenges facing boards and promoting the highest professional standards of conduct. The initiative brings an unmatched international viewpoint to its activities thanks to INSEAD’s position as The Business School for the World.

About this fluid world

this fluid world is a boutique business and marketing consultancy that assists global brands with the necessary transition caused by the changes in the business environment. this fluid world is their partner of choice due to the firm’s proven track record, its deep understanding of business and its unique ability to contextualise and operationalise the future


About INSEAD, The Business School for the World

As one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD brings together people, cultures and ideas to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society. Our research, teaching and partnerships reflect this global perspective and cultural diversity.

With locations in Europe (France), Asia (Singapore), the Middle East (Abu Dhabi), and now North America (San Francisco), INSEAD's business education and research spans four regions. Our 162 renowned Faculty members from 40 countries inspire more than 1,300 degree participants annually in our Master in Management,  MBAGlobal Executive MBA, Specialised Master’s degrees (Executive Master in Finance and Executive Master in Change) and PhD programmes. In addition, more than 10,000 executives participate in INSEAD Executive Education programmes each year.

INSEAD continues to conduct cutting-edge research and innovate across all our programmes. We provide business leaders with the knowledge and awareness to operate anywhere. Our core values drive academic excellence and serve the global community as The Business School for the World.

Contacts for press: 

Aileen Huang
Tel +65 9008 3812
Email: [email protected]
Cheryl Ng
Tel +65 8750 0788
Email: [email protected]
Gwenaelle Hennequin
Tel +33 6 15 12 10 86
Email: [email protected]