Katharina Schilli

Digital Realities: Transforming a company through a multi-perspective approach

Digital transformation has become essential in business value creation, with the media industry being in the vanguard. Facing competition from global tech-leaders and `born digitals´ like Google, Amazon, and Netflix, domestic media companies race on many tracks, such as AI-supported content creation, personalization, and new business models. Within companies, employees are in search of new ways of working whilst facing rising ambiguity. For instance, diverse stakeholders can have differing perceptions about “digitalization”, and unequal levels of understanding of what data-driven solutions can achieve. How do firms deal with these structural changes and leverage internal renewal?

Based on a longitudinal case study in Finland’s biggest Media company, the PhD study investigates how intra-organizational digital transformation unfolds, and how a collaborative approach affects the effectiveness for business renewal. The starting point of field investigations is located at the data science unit, which offers state of the art insights on digital possibilities. From there, the action research delves into organizational levels, business units, and cross-domain teams to explore digital realities and new ways of working. Here, design skills of cross-domain teams appeared to be critical to successfully collaborate in new work setting. Following these traces, the study currently examines how design maturity affects collective digital transformation.

The digital era resonates well with Churchman’s conception of `wicked problems´: “a class of social system problems, which are ill-formulated; where the information is confusing; where there are many clients and decision makers with conflicting values; and where the ramifications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing” (1967, p. 141). Although the article dates back four and a half decades, wicked problems are highly topical in the light of the grand challenges we are facing today. I have chosen the context of digital transformation to explore how to tackle grand challenges of our times more effectively as a collective. The research project is at times as wicked as wicked problems themselves. The financial and symbolic support of LSR has been essential to pursue this ambitious project, striving to shed light into the messy reality and cornubite to theory and practice.