Digital Transformation Patterns

Tailor your Organizational Setting to fuel Digital Business Model Success

About the study

  • In order to increase prospect of your digital transformation, we identify successful patterns of organizational design parameters that allow firms to succeed in building new digital business models.
  • Our approach is different. We are not limited to analyze certain innovation vehicles (e.g. digi labs, accelerators, company builders) but reflect on design parameters – organizational structure, decision making, location, and team setup – to tailor your digital innovation setup to requirements of your company and its ecosystem (details in Chapter 4).
  • Our focus is unique. In digital environments, a customer-centric innovation process based on three phases is widely accepted nowadays. We show differences along the phases Discovery, Incubation, and Acceleration.
  • Furthermore, we differentiate successful setups of innovation around core business (evolution of existing business models) and innovation beyond core business (innovation of new business models).

This split is also known as exploitation vs. exploration.

Dr. Frank BEHAM

Dr. Frank BEHAM

Professor for Digital Transformation; Director of Center for Digital Transformation (ZDT) at DHBW Stuttgart; Founder & Director of Kobe Research & Consulting
Dr. Stefan KOLB

Dr. Stefan KOLB

Professor and Head of Department „Digital Commerce Management“ at DHBW Karlsruhe; Founder & Director of Kobe Research & Consulting




Companies need to tailor organizational settings to fuel digital business model success

  • For the very first time, a study of SWISS IPG together with Kobe Research & Consulting analyzed 75 leading companies regarding how they organize their business model innovation activities along the main phases of innovation
  • The study proves a clear need to differentiate organizational settings in light of ambidexterity
  • While success patterns for innovation around core business appear pretty straightforward and tend to be stable over time, for innovation beyond core it is essential to adapt to specific needs along the different phases of innovation

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We identified the “most successful” and the “least successful” patterns of digital transformation

Key finding business model innovation "around core" (evolution of existing business models)

  • "digital team across business units" is a model for success

  • "No defined organizational structure" inevitably results in the failure of many innovations

  • Involving external partners under clear rules of the game promotes innovation success in the long term

  • Top management as a decision-maker is overrated

  • Geographical proximity to the business unit leads to failure in two out of three cases

Key finding business model innovation "beyond core" (evolution of existing business models)

  • The targeted adaptation of organizational structures in the course of the phase is decisive for success
  • Middle management as a bridge between top-down and bottom-up is the key to innovation
  • Decisions by top management to pursue ideas often fail
  • Proximity to the core business in the search for radical new ideas is harmful
  • The value of specialized support teams for business innovation proves questionable

We differentiate between innovation around core business and innovation beyond core business

Overview of “most successful” pattern of digital transformation with highest probability of success

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Overview of “least successful” patterns of digital transformation with lowest probability of success

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Download your DTP management summary of successful patterns of digital transformation

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