What The Heck Is The “New Digital Enterprise”?

It’s the spring of 2012, and the last few years have taught us much. As business leaders and practitioners, we know that the times they aren’t a-changing – they’ve already done a-changed. The firm of the 20th century is on the way out, whether it realizes it or not. The day of the New Digital Enterprise is nigh upon us. Are we ready to lead, manage, and work for it?

In just the last few months, the literature and communication lines have been full of talk about Big Data and #BYOD and how they will both radically re-shape the business worlds we live in. Guys like Brian Solis are talking about Generation C and how they will reshape the way things are bought, sold and consumed. Gals like Nilofer Merchant are talking about The New Rules for the Social Era (and writing a book for HBR about it, too) explaining in great detail how business models need to change, and change fast. Of course we already know how our workforce is changing.

We saw the true power of social media in the Arab Spring. We learned that here in America the “regular joe” – in the form of the Tea Party and Occupy movements – will take to the streets to right perceived wrongs in the system. They’ve demonstrated that they can masterfully use social to organize and spread their messages.

Social, Big Data, the unprecedented rise and spread of mobile technology, the connected consumer, the sense of anger and distrust at business in general, are combining to create a shift of tremendous scope and magnitude.

Everyone, it seems, is using words like “nimble”. “Speed”. “Adaptability.” Solis has crystalized those messages in the Digital Darwinism video ad for his upcoming book, The End of Business as Usual. This is “Generation Flux”, proclaims Fast Company. It’s hard to tell who’s less popular, the government or big business. Employee engagement and morale, in many places, is dismal. And here we are, in the middle of it all. It is time, as Solis says, to #adaptordie.

Spring 2012 is the dawn of the New Digital Enterprise.

The NDE will:

  • Understand that the new economy is entirely customer-centric and that the defining life-or-death characteristic is the quality of the end-to-end customer experience.
  • Cultivate communities of customers and partners rather than target segments and flood the channels
  • Display ever-greater amounts of transparency to employees, stakeholders, and shareholders
  • Communicate and behave in a way that encourages consumer/customer/public trust and respect
  • Recruit and retain not based on paychecks or perks, but on purposes
  • Realize that “command and control” of the workforce is not only no longer possible, it’s also no longer desirable
  • Become flatter and flatter as trust, authority, initiative and agency are decentralized and pushed closer to “the line”
  • Build systems that enable their employees, rather than frustrate or hinder them
  • Build cultures based on trust and open communication both vertically and horizontally
  • Promote leaders who display values as much as vision
  • Pursue sustainable, long-term competitive advantage and success, not short-term profits

As leaders, managers, practitioners, as employees, as friends, as colleagues we have to make this happen. This blog will be about formulating strategy, building culture, developing systems and processes, communicating, and leading to make this change happen. I hope you’ll be a part of the discussion, and a part of the change.

Because, like the man says, “it comes down to a simple choice…”.

Seth Cargiuolo

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