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Strathclyde Business School

Digital business leaders urgently required

By Jim Hamill - Posted on 15 January 2015

With the announcement of a new MBA elective available at Strathclyde Business School, class coordinator Dr Jim Hamill discusses the growing urgency for talented digital leaders in business.

Digital Disruption

We live in an era of disruptive technologies where a combination of the Internet, Social Media, Mobile Connectivity, Smartphones, the Cloud, Big Data, the Internet of Things and Gen C (constantly connected customers) are leading to the ‘end of business as usual' (Brian Solis).  As a consequence, there is growing recognition that organisations need to ‘adapt or die'.

With a growing list of companies/products who have already become, or are in the process of becoming, digital dinosaurs due to their inability to adapt to the new realities of the digital economy, digital transformation has become critical to how we innovate and differentiate ourselves from the competition.  Used effectively, digital technology can deliver real business benefits across a wide range of value chain activities including sales & marketing, customer service, internal operations (cost and efficiency savings), HRM, technology development, innovation and firm infrastructure (building agile organisations).

The key term here is ‘used effectively’.  While there is growing recognition of the need for digital transformation, industry leaders (with a few exceptions) lack the digital knowledge, understanding and confidence to drive change.  Younger managers (Digital Natives) will have the technology skills and confidence required but may lack the high level strategic understanding of how to fully align digital technology to support core business goals.

A new breed of senior executive is required - Digital Leaders i.e. leaders who can combine high level business knowledge, experience and understanding with the ability to develop digital transformation strategies fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives. Leaders who have the confidence and personal skills to drive digital led organisational change.

Digital Leadership Crisis

While the need for digital transformation is now widely accepted, numerous reports have highlighted major skills shortages in this area. For example, a recent survey by Cap Gemini Consulting and the MIT Center for Digital Business found that missing digital skills were the key hurdle to digital transformation in 77% of the companies surveyed,  (‘The Digital Talent Gap: Developing Skills for Today’s Digital Organizations, 2013’). A 2014 report by Forrester Research highlighted a ‘digital execution crisis’. Successful digital business transformation, according to Forrester, requires the full support of CEOs to drive investment priorities. However, few CEOs fully understand digital. It is not surprising, therefore, that ‘many executives report that their firms are woefully unprepared to deal with the digital onslaught

Similar findings have been reported by IBM, Accenture and others.

New MBA Elective Class in Digital Leadership: Strategy and Management

With the above in mind, the Strathclyde MBA programme is delighted to announce a new elective class in ‘Digital Leadership: Strategy and Management’.

Dr Jim Hamill, Class Coordinator, states that the overall aim of the class is to disseminate best practice strategic and practical advice in becoming a future Digital Business Leader; executives who will increasingly demand a price premium in the market place.  The class covers the key issues involved in developing, implementing and managing successful digital transformation programmes. It is NOT an IT class. The main focus is digital strategy, implementation and performance measurement.

The class is structured around 5 key topics critical to successful digital transformation:

  • Understanding the digital and social media revolutions; digital natives and Generation C
  • The use of digital and social media technologies externally to support customer and partner engagement
  • The internal use of digital and social technologies within the business to improve efficiency and knowledge transfer
  • Digital and social media strategy development
  • Digital strategy implementation and performance measurement

Employing an innovative new approach to student learning, the elective class will be available to full-time and part-time students in Glasgow (including Summer School) and internationally at several of the international centres.  An online version of the class is also available.

As befits Strathclyde’s position as an innovator in executive learning, the SBS MBA is one of the first programmes worldwide to have a dedicated class on digital leadership.

If you would like more information on the course please contact Angela Innes on angela.innes@strath.ac.uk.

With the growing need for digital expertise in industry becoming increasingly important, what subjects within the area would you like to develop your knowledge on?  Share your comments below.

* The new elective class represents a revised and completely updated version of the previous and highly popular ‘Social Media/Social Business: Strategy and Management’.

Contact details

 Undergraduate admissions
 +44 (0)141 548 4114

 Postgraduate admissions
 +44(0)141 553 6118 / 6119


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