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Doing Business in the Age of Digital Transformation

As in previous industrial revolutions, the arrival of shared infrastructure - in the case of our 'Fourth Revolution', the Internet - changes everything. The evidence is everywhere: peer-to-peer lending, Spotify, eBay, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Rightmove, Uber, and Amazon. All of these business models succeed by brokering direct new relationships between people, services and things - and learn as they go by harvesting data. Importantly, all have been vigorously resisted by incumbents!

So how are successful organisations changing their operating models - "moving from pipes to platforms" in response to the shared informational infrastructure of the Internet? Companies around the world are plugging in, and reconfiguring their operations around data, underpinned with modular, digitised business "capabilities". These essential building blocks of business - which include accountancy, logistics and payments - are delivered with the help of a vast market of affordable, easy-to-deploy, and flexible digital services, delivered out of the Cloud. For example, data storage (think Dropbox, AWS), payment platforms (PayPal, Google Wallet), and customer relationship management tools (Salesforce, Dynamics) can all be plugged into a business within hours, and shared seamlessly on any device.

Looking at these examples of digital businesses, we can quickly see that all share common features. They are brokers, not providers; disintermediators, disaggregators, and disruptors; horizontally, not vertically organised, and movers from "push" to "pull." They're "of the net, not on the net" - meaning they didn't try to bolt shiny tech on to old, incumbent business models. Much as Netflix replaced Blockbuster in home videos, digital businesses are founded on the basic understanding that the analogue way of doing things has had its day.

Increasingly, this also includes the traditional "sign on the door" sales technique: supermarkets are discovering that their core capabilities as supply chain integrators allows them to broker all manner of transactions well outside fruit and vegetables; banks are discovering that their transaction processing capabilities open untold doors to other markets well outside traditional financial services. These shifts are perhaps more about digital reimagination than digital transformation. 

Time, then, for a working definition: "digital is a participatory layer of web-based media that allows users to self-select their own experiences, and affords the organisation the ability to bridge media, gain feedback, iterate their service, and build and activate relationships". This definition illustrates that digital transformation requires significant culture change, as well as new talent: it is as much about relationship and service management as about technology.

This event will explore these themes, hearing from experienced keynote speakers as well as panels of experts discussing changes in business models, culture, and skills - and, course, the technology that underpins these.




Tea, coffee, breakfast and networking


Opening address: "How digital transformation is blurring industry boundaries"

Dr Kamal Munir, Reader in Strategy and Policy, Cambridge Judge Business School

In this opening address Kamal will talk about the idea that digital transformation has led to the blurring of industry boundaries, meaning opportunities and threat may come from completely unrelated industry sectors.


TED-style talk: "The digital innovation in public services: doing more with less for more"

Professor Jaideep Prabhu, Professor of Marketing, Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of Indian Business & Enterprise, Director of the Centre for India & Global Business (CIGB), Cambridge Judge Business School


TED-style talk: "Professional service firms - opportunities and threat from digitisation"

Dr Kishore Sengupta, Reader in Operations Management, Cambridge Judge Business School


TED-style talk: "Digital transformation of innovation ecosystems"

Dr Nektarios (Aris) Oraiopoulos, University Lecturer in Operations Management, Cambridge Judge Business School


TED-style talk: "The future of finance"

Robert Wardrop, Research Fellow in Sociology & Finance, Cambridge Judge Business School, and Executive Director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF)




Panel discussion: "Doing business in the age of digital transformation – from pipes to platforms"

This panel will look at the cross sector themes that underpin digital transformation and how, if there is commitment at a senior level, digital transformation can dramatically improve efficiency and cut costs.

Facilitated by Dr Mark Thompson, University Senior Lecturer in Information Systems, Cambridge Judge Business School, and member of the UK Cabinet Office National Data Steering Group, UK National Audit Office Digital Advisory Panel Digital Leaders Advisory Board, and invited Board member, TechUK.

  • Dr Stella Pachidi, University Lecturer in Information Systems, Cambridge Judge Business School
  • Shaun Grady, Vice-President Business Development Operations, Astra Zeneca
  • Leigh Smyth, Head of Digital Inclusion, Lloyds Banking Group




Keynote: "Digital transformation and the sharing economy"

Professor Stelios Kavadias, Margaret Thatcher Professor of Enterprise Studies in Innovation & Growth, Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre and Director of Research, Cambridge Judge Business School


Facilitated workshops

  1. "Transforming your organisation" - Dr Kishore Sengupta, Reader in Operations Management, Deputy CEO Judge Business School Executive Education, Cambridge Judge Business School
  2. "Business models in an age of digital transformation" - Professor Stelios Kavadias, Margaret Thatcher Professor of Enterprise Studies in Innovation & Growth, Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre and Director of Research, Cambridge Judge Business School


Close, networking and drinks

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Data analytics: why it’s crunch time for your business

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Shakil Khan, Head of Special Projects at Spotify

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Five ways a digital platform could transform your business

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How technology has changed the game of creative production and consumption

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Contact us

This event is by invitation only. To find out more, please contact:

Matthew Walkley
Corporate Relations Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1223 339663

In this short video, Professor Stelios Kavadias – a speaker at the conference – talks about the impact of digital across industries.

Watch the video

Venue information

The Brewery
52 Chiswell Street

Event timings

Date: 1 November 2016
Start time: 09:30
End time: 16:15