Higher education institutions worldwide are facing the challenge of adapting to the digital era. This implies embarking in a process that is neither painless or inexpensive, but the trade-off of doing nothing is likely to lead to disappearance. The question then is how to successfully drive digital transformation? In our view, it must contemplate at least: a) a thorough vulnerability analysis—factoring and assessing candidly core elements such as strategy, structures, policies, processes and talent base; b) careful development of a multiyear plan, strategically sound and anchored on core strengths, but ambitious and flexible enough to respond to the rapidly changing landscape; and c) flawless execution to avoid costly pitfalls, mitigate risks and ensure that as consequence of its transformation process the institution is increasingly able to operate in the “new normal” of rapid and constant change.
The adoption of new technologies can unlock significant sources of value for universities--cost value, experience value and platform value--but technology in itself can’t drive digital transformation. It is imperative to create and foster a digital culture that, starting from the leadership, configures a “new institutional profile” and “new ways of doing things” by learning new behaviors and letting go old habits. For example, promoting:
Curiosity: To humbly and eagerly be willing to learn from the others outside the organization.
Courage: To imagine and articulate a future that is both disruptive and possible.
Delegation: To flatten the organization and harness the intellectual prowess that resides in it.
Iteration: Toward an operating model where there is more action and less planning.
Cooperation and collaboration: To dwarf the spirit of competitive individualism.