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No company is immune from challenges in the digital age. Even companies that do not make their money directly on the Internet or from Internet technologies are increasingly facing disruptions. As such, changes across entire companies are required. How the business world currently operates is being fundamentally called into question, leading to significant structural changes within more and more organizations.

Bringing about enterprise-wide change

Think tanks, which had been regarded as the creative centres of many companies for a long time, are simply not up to date in order to successfully face the transformations that the digital age calls for. The ideas that were being developed in these innovation centres did not usually manage to be put into practice. From the HR to the financial department, innovative ideas had to make it through several different departments of a company first, until barely anything was left of them.

Too many departments are busy trying to protect the status quo and are thus putting a brake on innovation. A holistic, enterprise-wide rethinking is therefore called for. However, for all departments to jointly work together towards the same goal on behalf of the entire company is much easier said than done.

Therein, it is not only a clear vision by the management team that is required. Rather, the management team must also develop a detailed plan of how this vision can be filled with life and how their own employees can get excited about the shared corporate goal. Innovative corporate thinking must therefore no longer be restricted to a single department within a company, but must determine all of the actions and thinking of all members of this organisation. Finding leaders who have internalised the absolute will for positive change at such a high level thus becomes another challenge for corporations.

Managers and employees must rethink how they are operating

The digital age thus demands entirely new skills from the executives themselves. While efficiency was one of the most important assets in the past, the innovative capacity of companies is now in the foreground. Otherwise, companies from many industries will simply fall by the wayside.

The best example of this is the auto industry. Car sharing is becoming the new trend. Fewer and fewer consumers own a car and it is expected that the cars of the next generation will even be able to drive own their own in the future. Anyone that continues to work on developing the most efficient production methods for manufacturing existing car models has already lost the race and is simply missing the point. It is rather all about completely reinventing this industry to keep up with the changed consumer behaviour.

Accordingly, corporate cultures of the future will be influenced by collaboration rather than fixed hierarchies. Executives are particularly in demand in regards to their social skills, since not only the employee, but customer relations are of enormous importance. Technology must be used in a completely new way, wherefore employees require more freedom in this regard – so that they can experiment with new technologies and make mistakes.

People are thus in the foreground in the digital age. It ultimately is not just about getting one’s own customers more and more on board, identifying their needs more accurately and meeting them. Instead, executives will also be faced with the fears of their employees given the many changes of the digital age. Both senior management and employees must learn new ways in order to jointly develop sustainable business models and to implement change even as an old-established company.