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Digital leadership - Henley Business School Finland

Henley’s Digital Leadership Forum aims to change how we design our businesses

The struggle to be an effective organisational leader within an era of such fast-changing technology is one that is challenging senior executives across the world. No sooner is a state-of-the-art system or platform installed, than it can be deemed outdated or redundant.

So-called future-proof capabilities cannot take account of all the quantum shifts in technology, so maintaining the most cost-effective architecture is an ongoing dilemma for even tech-savvy leaders.

And there is no escaping the need to have the latest, most efficient ways of communicating, storing and analysing data, automating processes and enhancing everything from logistics to operations. No longer is a digital proposition a desirable bolt-on; it now has to be at the core of business design.

The Digital Leadership Forum comes of age

Henley has been leading the charge to provide credible, research-informed advice and support in this field, and through the Henley Digital Leadership Forum it is providing an increasingly rich resource for business innovators seeking robust learning.

According to Professor Sharm Manwani, Executive Professor of IT Leadership at Henley, the Digital Leadership Forum is a vehicle to help Henley in its quest to connect key researchers, practitioners and policy makers through a network of partnerships.

“The Digital Leadership Forum is a collaborative platform set up by Henley Business School through which the School and its partners engage in research projects, networking, teaching, design and transferring policy-relevant research in the field of digital leadership. With the Digital Leadership Forum, we are dedicated to promoting innovations in ICT and exploring how digital technologies facilitate the way we work and communicate, now and in the future.”

“Creating a digital culture within an organisation is a huge challenge, and often the challenge is greatest within the largest and longest-established companies.”

“Henley’s joint research with McKinsey found that while digital transformation is about agility and responsiveness, it also brings complexity. We’ve seen this recently with the threat of cyber-hacking through something as seemingly innocent as internet-enabled domestic appliances. Organisations therefore need to recognise the knock-on effects of digital, and create the infrastructure to be robust, cyber-secure and efficient.”

“In our research, we’ve identified a worrying lack of capability among IT professionals to inspire leaders to anticipate, recognise and deal with both the digital opportunities and dangers. There is sometimes an “either/or mindset”, and an absence of “organisational ambidexterity”. It’s very difficult for digital leaders to find an appropriate balance between business, technology and leadership; hence our programmes focus on each of these elements.”

PA Consulting programme provides Business Design in a digital context

In the last few years, Henley has been working alongside PA Consulting to jointly develop a Business Design programme in a digital context. Now on its 10th cohort, it has been attended by over 200 senior PA Consulting delegates. The programme enables participants to gain a holistic understanding of business design within an innovative framework. Individually and collectively, they increasingly contribute to enhanced client business operating models, which translates into more and larger business assignments.

Digital Leadership MOOC attracts 11,000 applicants

Similarly, Henley has been working in collaboration with leading German and Dutch universities to deliver strategy and business design (including enterprise architecture) programmes sponsored by EuroCIO, Europe’s only independent association of large IT users. The programme was assessed as best practice for digital leaders by the European Commission (EC), leading to Henley supporting an EC digital leadership initiative for large enterprises. Henley was then invited to participate in an EC research study amongst SMEs, which, in turn, proved to be the catalyst for Henley’s highly successful online course (MOOC): Digital leadership: Creating value through technology, which attracted over 11,000 applicants from around the world when it launched in February on the FutureLearn platform. The course is free to join, aimed at top and middle management in any industry, and will help participants to gain confidence in digital leadership and create value through technology.

Henley remains committed to expanding its digital leadership education and research through strong collaborations with leading organisations and the beneficial impact of Henley addressing the digital skills shortages is clear. As an example, after completing the Business Enterprise Architecture (BEA) programme, the CIO of Bayer Mexico commented, “What I learned on the programme was crucial to my new role as a country CIO and in establishing IT as an essential company function. The programme’s broad scope helped me set up my new organisation in alignment with the business strategy.”

More information on the Henley Digital Leadership Forum

Jennika Rantanen - Henley Business School Finland

Jennika Rantanen

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