When large organizations launch so-called digital transformation initiatives, it is often believed that integrating new technology with existing systems poses the biggest challenge. But that is not necessarily the case. Often, grappling with organizational culture presents a bigger problem. While some firms have a DNA that accepts change relatively easily, others are far more resistant. Navigating the balance between the culture and technology together is one of the toughest challenges of digital transformation.
Consider the digital journey at FedEx, whose culture reflects the company’s long-held belief that profits follow after ensuring employee and customer satisfaction. The Memphis-based company has used digital tools to upgrade its offerings, speed delivery and improve the quality of tracking information, notes Nik Puri, senior vice president of international IT at FedEx.
Wharton has also been dealing with these issues. Organizations need to create a culture that introduces technological change with empathy toward people and processes, according to Dan Alig, chief information officer at Wharton Computing and Information Technology. Alig and his team are using digital tools to help students gain more value from their courses, and also to help faculty and administrators improve their performance.
Puri and Alig spoke with Knowledge@Wharton about how FedEx and Wharton went about navigating the complex relationship between digital transformation and culture in their organizations.