IMD, the Swiss business school, has received $10 million in funding from US network equipment company Cisco Systems to create a new centre for digital business transformation.
As companies scramble to stay relevant in the new digital economy, IMD hopes to become the world leading destination for research, innovation and leadership to drive tech transformation across industries.
It is the second digital push by a top business school in two months, after Oxford Said Business School launched the Oxford Polaris Digital Academy in March with Polaris Consulting & Services, a digital specialist advisory firm.
IMD’s Global Center for Digital Business Transformation will help executives take advantage of digital opportunities and neutralize digital threats, such as cybercrime, and organize learning events.
Michael Wade, professor of innovation and strategic information management at IMD, said the centre will help executives who are struggling to implement transformation. “These executives know that they must change and adapt to digital opportunities and threats, but they don't know how,” he said.
Business is undergoing a sea change as a result of the influence of new capabilities such as social media, data analytics and the cloud.
The consultancy Gartner forecasts that by 2020, 75% of companies will be a digital business or will be preparing to become one, but only 30% of these efforts will be successful due to lack of talent and technical expertise.
Edzard Overbeek, senior vice president at Cisco Services, said: “We seek to help our customers manage through rapid market changes due to digitization.”
The number one reason companies fail to make a digital transformation is a failure to re-imagine the business from top to bottom before they begin, Gartner said.
Aparna Dogra, at consultants Temasek Management Services in Singapore, said: “Forward looking companies that invest in new technologies and embrace digitally-driven processes and business models are better positioned to compete in the fast-paced digital age.”
The IMD collaboration will combine Cisco’s leadership in providing technology solutions for the “internet of things” with the business school’s expertise in executive education.
Digital transformation is a challenge but business recognizes the need to evolve. Stephan Strauss, division president at DB Schenker, a German logistics company, said: “As a business leader in a traditional industry who needs to take his company on the journey of digital transformation, it is a challenge to take the best route.”
Tom Touchet, chief executive officer of Smart City Media, a US digital media company, said: “We are in a period of prolific and profound change, driven by digital disruption and accelerated by the internet of things. That opportunity is the focus of virtually all business leaders.
“Understanding and leveraging the impact of these new business models and their competitive dynamics is instrumental to our success.”
Cisco will also fund a new Cisco Chair in Digital Business Transformation as well as the centre, to be will be located on IMD’s campus in Lausanne, Switzerland, and be fully operational by summer 2015, the company said.
Other leading business schools running executive programs focused on digital transformation include HEC Paris in France and Canada’s DeGroote School.
Business schools also offer MBA courses in digital transformation, including Harvard Business School of the US, and Australia’s University of Southern Queensland.