Knowledge Center: Publication

Digital Acceleration and Innovation

Perspective from Denmark: Digital acceleration—what does it take?

10/2/2019 Niels Bentzen and Nana Bule
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Digital success is not measured in terms of doing digital. Digital success has to do with being digital to the core. In turn, it has as much to do with culture as it does with technology, and it requires a combination of technological savvy, strategic thinking, and organizational effectiveness to foster successful digital transformations.

Settling on the proper organizational structure for one’s digital endeavors is an ever more complicated task. And what works seems to differ from organization to organization. There is no blueprint. Nevertheless, it is our experience that some structures work better than others, and that what works well often has to do with defining factors in the organization such as leadership, talent, culture, and organizational alignment. They represent the human elements of going digital, and they form an organization’s digital maturity.

To better understand the questions companies must address when going digital, we decided to seek out experiences and learnings from top chief executive officers, chief digital officers, and chairmen, representing 10 of the largest companies in Denmark. They all have firsthand experience with setting a digital agenda and driving the transformation within each of their organizations. Our guiding question was this: Digital acceleration—what does it take?

While our interviews proved that factors such as a high level of CEO involvement and a solid customer focus are prerequisites for all organizations, they also pinpointed that, depending on the level of digital maturity in the organization, the recipe for success will look different.

Companies that are just getting started often need an evangelist and a hub set up to get the transformation going whereas companies that are digitally advancing and accelerating benefit more from the integration and standardization of digital efforts across the organization. In between the two levels is an important intermediate position—the vacuum. The decisions that the CEO and chairman make at that stage are crucial for further success.

The digital acceleration journey can best be described as one of maturity. Starting out, you need a clear digital strategy, but, over time, digital priorities and focus points will be part of the overall business strategy as digital is integrated into the core business.


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About the authors

Niels Bentzen (nbentzen@heidrick.com) is a partner in Heidrick & Struggles’ Copenhagen office and a member of the Digital and Global Technology & Services practices.

Nana Bule is the CEO of Microsoft Denmark.


Niels Bentzen Partner +45 33 377600

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