Accelerating Digital Transformation:

Understanding and Setting Up a Digital Services Unit

Digital transformation brings in multiple risks and challenges. Business cycles are now faster and more integrated, there is an increased demand for crosssilo capabilities, and there are greater risks due to brand exposure in social media. To answer such challenges and address the opportunities, companies need to set up firm-level governance around their digital initiatives. The lack of governance can indeed lead to very poor outcomes. As a Pfizer senior executive recently put it: “We have many different brands in many markets, so when it comes to digital opportunities, we can have one thousand flowers blooming – and that’s not really scalable to any of our stakeholders”. Companies that have adopted this laisser-faire approach have indeed seen a thousand flowers bloom: a retail company, for example, introduced nine applications with 12 functionalities, using five different technologies. These applications, each with multiple functionalities, resulted in inconsistent, uncoordinated service offerings that confused customers and finally led to increased costs, breached security policies and a damaged brand image. The company did not have any governance structure in place.