In recent years, the corporate reality has been altered fundamentally by the concept of digital transformation. Questions surrounding the role of information technology in business have now become pervasive and unavoidable for corporations. Whilst the dominant logic of the Industrial Age was linear and product-oriented, today’s Digital Age can be defined by nonlinear and service-oriented approaches.
This means digital will never be simple. It invariably brings with it complexity: in delivery and in the teams that innovate, develop, and manage digital functionality. With all that complexity, moving forward with digital transformations without clarity of roles and responsibilities is unlikely to lead to success.
Here at Netcentric, this conversation typically starts with clients telling us that they want to seek solutions to their challenges. Many try to design their way out of a low-quality digital presence with a website redesign, or perhaps by creating a new app, thinking this will improve their digital experience. Often this improves matters for a few months, before their digital system then begins to degrade once more. Despite this, many organizations are often resistant to taking the time to address their governance issues. The responses we often hear include:
My answer to these pushbacks remains the same: isn't it better to take the time to establish some basic rules of engagement for digital, than to tackle unresolved debates over digital strategy ownership or website content ownership day-in and day-out with? Ultimately, isn't governance the better choice?
The overarching goal of digital governance is to create value for a company through accountability. The broad notion of accountability means efficient and effective use of resources to improve the welfare of the company. Within that, transparency is an important aspect of accountability. Employees need to be informed about company operations in order that they can hold a department accountable for actions.
Inclusivity is another crucial value, which embodies the notion of social equity. Inclusivity deserves special attention in digital governance due to the inherent challenges posed by the digital divide. The digital divide refers to the gulf between those that have technological skills and those that don’t. It’s present both generally, and internally within organizations in which some departments utilize technologies, and others simply don’t. Promoting digital inclusiveness means addressing various forms and sources of the digital divide. After all, governance is designed to serve everyone.
The definition of digital governance is as follows:
The benefits of digital governance are clear. A well-designed digital governance framework minimizes the number of unresolved debates regarding the management of an organization's digital presence by making clear who holds the decision-making authority for digital strategy, digital policy and digital standards.
A digital governance framework is made up of multiple components:
A digital governance framework distributes decision-making authority on specific digital products and services from the organization core throughout other aspects of the organization. This allows the organization to effectively decentralize production maintenance of its digital presence.
We’d recommend recording all components of the digital governance framework in a digital handbook. This comes with multiple advantages for the business:
If you’re looking for support in developing your digital governance framework, you’re welcome to send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details.
Collin, J., Halen, M., Helenius, M., Hiekkanen, K., Itälä, T. and Korhonen, J.J. (2014). IT Leadership
in Finnish Organizations and Digital Transformation. Helsinki: Aalto University
Welchmann, L. (2015). Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design. New York: Rosenfeld Media.
Chen, Y. (2017). Managing digital governance : issues, challenges, and solutions. New York: Routledge.
Moore, M.H. (1995). Creating public value : strategic management in government. Cambridge : Harvard University Press.