WHY? WHAT? HOW? The concept for a successful transformation into a digital company is based on the answers to these three questions.

For a hundred years, Henry Ford defined our image of business: highly specialized assembly line production with a clear division of labor producing mass scale products (“You can have the Ford Model T in any color as long as it’s black”). The Taylorist system that focuses entirely on specialization and efficiency has given us affordable cars, washing machines, and holiday travel.

And it is this very model of success from the twentieth century that has now become the obstacle to the successful digital transformation of companies. Indeed, organizations that are built for efficiency fear that change brings disorder, and instead tend toward incremental adoption of innovation in tightly defined niche projects so as not to halt the well-oiled corporate machine. All economists know the S curve concept that defines the performance of a technology as a function of the funds invested for research and development. As such, the transition to a new superior technology—the leap to the next S curve—is initially always met with a loss in efficiency.

Unfortunately, those who hesitate to take this leap will lose in the long term. Although efficiency increases only slowly in the lower curve of the new S, the curve suddenly rises very sharply and is ultimately catapulted far beyond the level of the old technology. ...

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