Beyond digital

Just being digital isn’t enough

New book, Beyond Digital, shows the way to successful business transformation

New York, 8 December 2021 – “Digital transformation” has become the strategy buzz phrase of the moment.  But while the world is going digital, digitization as a business strategy has become a road to equivalency. Digital initiatives alone are not enough to win in the marketplace -- companies need to reimagine the compelling value they will offer and how they will create it in a differentiating way.

In Beyond Digital, a new book from Harvard Business Review Press, authors Paul Leinwand and Matt Mani, explain that the future will belong to companies that successfully answer two fundamental questions: “What unique value do we contribute in today’s world?” and “What capabilities allow us to create that value better than anyone else?”

The book’s findings are based on three years of research with 12 companies that have executed business-wide transformation strategies:  Adobe, Citigroup, Cleveland Clinic, Eli Lilly, Hitachi, Honeywell, Inditex, Komatsu, Microsoft, Philips, STC Pay and Titan.

Through in-depth interviews with the leaders who led these transformations, Beyond Digital identifies seven leadership imperatives that are essential for companies to transform their organizations and shape the future:

  • Reimagine your company’s place in the world
  • Embrace and create value via ecosystems
  • Build a system of privileged insights with your customers
  • Make your organization outcome-oriented
  • Invert the focus of your leadership team
  • Reinvent the social contract with your people
  • Disrupt your own leadership approach
Beyond digital book Leinwand Mani

Authors Paul Leinwand and Mahadeva Matt Mani, principals with PwC US, identify seven imperatives for creating sustainable business advantage

Blue glowing fibre cable

Paul Leinwand with Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting business, said: “There is a revolution in how competitive advantage is achieved -- both in what consumers expect and the ways companies deliver on those expectations.  It is more important than ever for leaders to guide their companies to define their place in the world in terms of the unique value they create for customers and for society. Then they need to define the system of distinct capabilities that allows them to create that value in ways that others cannot.”

The book emphasizes that lasting business success requires building a capabilities-based organization, with outcome-oriented teams that are totally focused on delivering differentiating value. Leaders need to be brutally honest about gaps their companies have in the seven imperatives and there needs to be a commitment to executing all of the imperatives.  An incremental approach focusing on only one or two is likely to fall short.

Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive Vice President and President, National Transformation Partnerships, Microsoft, said: “Businesses in today's world cannot afford to stand still. But change is a continuous journey. Beyond Digital’s approach underlines the fact that it's only when organizations and leaders are prepared to truly challenge and change the way they think, act, and engage that lasting and meaningful transformation happens.”

Mahadeva Matt Mani with Strategy& added: “One of the things that stood out in our research is how many leaders emphasized that they themselves had to transform at least as much as their companies did. Today’s business leaders need to be both strategists and executors; tech-savvy and deeply human; good at forming coalitions and making compromises, all while being guided by their integrity.”

As demonstrated in Beyond Digital, achieving sustainable success in business transformation is accomplished by leading on differentiated capabilities and outcomes, not just digital initiatives.

Learn more about Beyond Digital here.

Advance praise for Beyond Digital

“The authors...dispense plenty of advice for making organizations outcome-oriented, creating a focused leadership team, and reinventing a workplace’s social contract. Leaders should “establish [their] top team based on the right skills mix, rather than tenure,” they suggest, and reassure employees of their “importance in shaping the company’s future.”

Publishers Weekly

“Beyond Digital provides a detailed, well-researched road map for companies looking to transform themselves in an era when digitization is no longer a differentiator. The authors cite examples from successful international organizations to challenge leaders to push past the defeatist sentiment 'that's how we've always done it' to achieve true transformation.”

Tom Mihaljevic, MD, CEO and President, Cleveland Clinic

“Many books have been written about transformation. But Beyond Digital addresses transformation for the first time from a very comprehensive and consequential perspective, addressing all the key elements. A must-read for leaders who are serious about moving away from incremental change or one-off change projects to a fundamental overhaul of the enterprise they are in charge of.”

Ingo Bank, CEO, OSRAM Licht AG

“This book will move your thinking into the mid-twenty-first century. The internet is over fifty years old—'digital' is yesterday. Here are seven insights about what comes next. But consider each one with care. Don't rush. A return to deeper, more complex thinking, followed by decisive, bold action is the only way to win in the post-digital world.”

Sally Blount, CEO, Catholic Charities of Chicago; Michael L. Nemmers Professor of Strategy and former Dean, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

“Rather than writing one more book about how technology will change our lives, Leinwand and Mani have captured a future view of the world in which business leaders must cope. The fundamentals of every industry—demand, supply, and context for success—have changed forever, and Beyond Digital clearly describes the imperatives and actions that will make tomorrow's leaders successful.”

Ray Lane, Managing Partner, Greatpoint Ventures; former President, Oracle; former Executive Chairman, Hewlett-Packard Company; member of the board of directors, Beyond Meat

“In Beyond Digital, Leinwand and Mani bypass the buzzwords and clichés and provide a rigorous foundation for digital business transformation. They show how successful strategies are grounded in answering core questions, such as 'What is our purpose?,' 'What unique value do we add for our customers?,' and 'What distinct capabilities do we need to deliver on our value proposition?' A timely, insightful, and eminently useful guide for anyone leading business transformation in today's digital environment.”

Daniel Diermeier, Chancellor, Vanderbilt University

“Beyond Digital challenges leaders to get past the obsessively competitive race toward digitization. Instead, this book helps them transform their companies by using technology to solve the massive challenges and opportunities facing society today.”

Scott Watterson, Chairman of the Board and CEO, iFIT Health & Fitness

“Recent technological innovations are accelerating structural change across industries while also facilitating the resolution of social issues. To make the best use of these innovations, today’s companies must reimagine who they are, open new pathways to value creation, and transform their business. Based on an in-depth study of a dozen success stories, Beyond Digital reveals how any organization can translate this challenge into success.”

Naoki Tani, Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, and Executive General Manager of R&D Innovation Division, NTT DOCOMO

About the authors

Paul Leinwand is the global managing director for capabilities-driven strategy and growth with Strategy&, PwC’s global strategy consulting business.  He is a principal with PwC US. Paul advises boards and management teams on the topics of strategy, growth, and capability building, with a focus on consumer products and healthcare. He is co-author of three books, Strategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap (Harvard Business Review Press, 2016), The Essential Advantage: How to Win with a Capabilities-Driven Strategy (Harvard Business Review Press, 2010) and Cut Costs and Grow Stronger (Harvard Business Review Press, 2009), and writes regularly for Harvard Business Review, strategy+business and other publications.

Mahadeva Matt Mani is a principal with PwC US. He leads the transformation platform for PwC and Strategy&. Matt works with companies across industries to help them align their business operating models with their strategies, and to achieve significant performance benefits. He has over 25 years of industry and consulting experience  including in the consumer goods, retail, technology, healthcare, life sciences, industrial manufacturing and aerospace and defense sectors.

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