Digital Transformation Through Human Development


In collaboration with Alan Brown. 

Understanding digital transformation.

Our research suggests that many people are struggling to reconcile the many different ways to define digital transformation. In one recent review, for instance, twenty-three distinct definitions were observed across 28 published articles. Broadly, these definitions highlighted several key characteristics:

The use of new digital technologies

Such as emerging mobile communications, artificial intelligence, cloud-hosted services, blockchain-managed transactions, and connected devices via the Internet-of-Things. 

Allowing major business improvements 

Both in increasing efficiency of existing business processes and enabling entirely new ones.

Enhancing customer experience

To be online and accessible with greater availability.

Creating new business model opportunities 

Encouraging innovation in how value is created, managed, shared, and maintained.

Streamlining operations 

By eliminating manual steps to be replaced by automation and using data to enhance predictive interventions. 


Key Research Findings.

Getting staff on board is crucial.

 40% of our respondents believe clearer direction from the top would help leaders be more effective. 

Digital transformation has momentum.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of companies in Europe and the Middle East believe that technological trends are likely to impact their operations and workforce.

Technical skills are not enough.

More than one in three (36%) of HR and L&D decision-makers see resistance from staff members as the number one obstacle to change.


Alan W. Brown

Professor in Digital Economy at the University of Exeter's Business School

He is a co-founder of Unities digital advisory services and Professor in Digital Economy at the University of Exeter Business School where he helped to found the London-based Initiative in Digital Economy at Exeter (INDEX). Alan’s research is focused on agile approaches to digital transformation, and the relationship between technology and business innovation in today’s rapidly-evolving digital economy. Alan currently has a fellowship at the Alan Turing Institute (the UK National centre for research in AI and data analytics), holds a PhD in Computer Science, and has over 25 years’ global experience building businesses and delivering high-tech products and services.

Download our recent report onDigital Transformation today. 

2020 has seen a rapid acceleration of digital transformation agendas. In answering these challenges, focus is often placed on the technological requirements of change, but is there something missing in this bias?

In a new report from Headspring, the executive development joint venture of Financial Times and IE Business School, more than 350 senior HR and L&D share their views, concerns, and expectations of digital transformation in their organisations. Some of the points covered in the report are:

Why HR and L&D are central to successful digital transformation efforts

What talent and learning executives regard as the number one obstacle to successful digital evolution

The three crucial perspectives that determine HR’s impact on digital transformation

The perceived value of soft skills vs technical skills development.

What HR and L&D leaders believe needs to happen for digital change initiatives to succeed.

The Powerhouse of the Future.

Headspring is a joint venture of the Financial Times and IE Business School. Together, we bring a unique blend of business insight, expertise, business acumen, leading academic faculty and a global network of educators to co-create customised corporate learning and executive development programmes – in multiple languages, to almost any sector, anywhere in the world.

The expertise of the Financial Times

The FT has been the guide to business for more than 125 years, recognised internationally for it’s authority, integrity and accuracy. Our FT journalists are close to the source. They know the facts before they become news, helping our clients to stay one step ahead. They understand the big political, economic and technological trends as well as the small details of policy that can make or break a business.

The innovation of IE Business School

From its foundation, IE Business School have made it their business to disrupt. A triple accredited institution, it offers the world’s number one distance online MBA (QS, 2017) and the 3rd ranked non-US MBA in the world (Forbes, 2017). Through technological immersion and a culture of innovation, IE brings and entrepreneurial mindset that gives our programmes a sharper edge and greater impact.


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