Improving Digital Innovation in Large Enterprise: Strengthening e-Leadership at C-level

By Joe Peppard, Simon Robinson and Tobias Hüsing

If your company doesn’t want to miss out on the new opportunities IT offers for business innovation, you need people at C-level with a challenging combination of competencies: they have to be digitally literate, business aware and be able to engage in conversations together about digital and the possibilities for transformation. New data from a European survey shows that the bigger enterprises are finding it particularly difficult to get this “e-leadership” mix in place. Below, Joe Peppard, Simon Robinson and Tobias Hüsing offer advice to these CIOs to promote the necessary engagement and dialogue to fully embrace digitisation.


New technology innovations are bringing enormous potiential for business innovation across all enterprises: massive flows of data from which critical knowledge and insights can be prised; social media offering new market presence; mobile devices giving direct access to customers 24/7; apps redefining business models, etc. The modern CIO must understand these developments, actively scouting for new IT innovations that can potentially be harnessed for operational and strategic impact.

However, this is usually not enough, business leaders outside of the IT organisation are often wary of what they see as technology being “pushed” on them. Any conversation around proposals for digital innovation must be fully aligned with business drivers, perhaps suggesting new business models to increase revenue or new ways of doing business. Other things that could be suggested are new competitive products and process innovation that contributes to operational excellence or ideas to improve the customer experience. This requires e-leadership: a combination of business assessment with real insight into the capabilities and possibilities of technology. But even this is not always enough, the vision for the innovation has to be communicated, trust engendered and fears of downside allayed.


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