Is digital transformation dead? Judging by the attendees of IDC’s European Digital Executive Summit, the answer is very definitely “no.”

IDC runs the annual summit specifically for executives leading digital transformation. In 2019, IDC hosted about 60 executives from European organizations over 2 days at a range of interactive workshops, roundtable sessions and talks.

This time — a little tongue-in-cheek — the event was subtitled: “The Last Digital Summit?”

IDC’s chief analyst for Europe, Phil Carter, provocatively asked: Is it time to stop talking about digital transformation? Is it dead? And the response from the attendees was clear: Digital transformation is still a hugely important topic for European organizations, and it’s still very much alive.

Three themes consistently emerged from discussions on stage and in sessions, as well as over dinners and drinks: digital innovation, scaling digital, and the journey to the future enterprise.

Digital innovation was best highlighted by a great talk from a digital innovation architect at a fairly conservative oil and gas exploration company. What was particularly striking was how a truly successful digital innovation practice can thrive even within a fairly slow-moving, cautious parent organization. By being permitted to think and act differently — to break rules, within a certain scope – great things can happen.

Scaling digital. Of course, the outputs of innovation programs that show real promise have to be scaled to have material impact on the host organization and its customers.

IDC research shows that to scale digital innovation efforts and truly begin to transform — so as to take advantage of the new possibilities that innovations bring — organizations first have to more strategically connect their initial “islands of innovation” to one another, as well as to core systems and operations.

But beyond that, a vital shift occurs in organizations that are most successful. Here, new “digital teams” start to infuse their ideas into core processes and operations, introducing more agility and openness. And at the same time, there’s a flow of ideas in reverse — where the teams responsible for developing and managing core business platform elements bring their experience with scaling, security, long-term change management, and so on to digital innovation teams. IDC’s digital transformation maturity research suggests that the bulk of enterprises in Europe are still working through this transition phase — and success is far from guaranteed.

Check out our podcast episode on this page to hear me and Philip Carnelley, AVP of Software Research at IDC Europe, talk about all this, as well as our third conference theme — the journey to the future enterprise — in more detail.


Read the transcript of Building the future enterprise: Lessons from digital leaders podcast.