As companies work to digitally transform themselves, a number of distinct organisational models they have adopted to get the job done are beginning to emerge.\nResearch group IDC has identified four archetypes relating to digital transformation efforts: The Digital Transformation Special Projects Team, The Office of Digital Transformation, The Embedded Digital Business and The Digital Business Unit.\n \n\u201cYour organisational approach is going to affect how well you can really execute on your digital strategy. You can have a great vision but if you really can\u2019t get that thing executed across the whole enterprise you get stuck,\u201d IDC\u2019s senior vice president, IT executive, software, services and industry research Meredith Whalen toldCIO Australia.\n \n\u201cIf we were looking at any functional area \u2013 finance, HR \u2013 it\u2019s pretty universal, it\u2019s pretty standard the way organisations organise themselves. But when it comes to digital transformation, it\u2019s such a new area that there are many different approaches organisations are taking in terms of how they\u2019re bringing their people together.\u201d\n \nBut which is best for your business?\n \nSpeaking at the CIO Summit in Sydney last week, Whalen outlined the four archetypes and their advantages and disadvantages.\n \nThe Digital Transformation Special Projects Team\n \nBest for: Discovering digital transformation\n \nObjective: Define the digital transformation mission\n \n\u201cMainly we see this in organisations that are just starting on their digital transformation. What they do is they put a group in place, it\u2019s usually pretty high up in the organisation reporting mainly to the CEO,\u201d Whalen explained.\n \n\u201cTheir whole role is to really define the digital mission for their company. They\u2019re doing a lot of research \u2013 they\u2019re very into innovation labs and ideation retreats and anything else they can think of \u2013 to try to figure out how they take one culture and one way of doing something and start to switch that to a more digital culture. How they start to jumpstart that,\u201d she added.\n \n\u201cThis is really a good model for when you first try to discover digital transformation.\u201d\n \nIn the Asia Pacific region, IDC research indicates 22 per cent of companies take this approach, compared to 26 per cent in the US and 17 per cent in Western Europe.\n \nThe Office of Digital Transformation\n \nBest for: Establishing digital transformation governance\n \nObjective: Establishing the digital priorities for enterprise\n \n\u201cWhat we saw in organisations that were a little more mature, that had already defined what they\u2019re digital mission was, but needed some type of governance, we find that they would put in place some kind of office,\u201d Whalen said.\n \n\u201cIt\u2019s some type of group \u2013 again a central group reporting pretty high in the organisation \u2013 and that group would work closely with lines of business to either uncover what it is that could be digitally transformed or work out what it is that they\u2019re already doing and try to bring that together under some type of governance.\n \n\u201cIt\u2019s purpose is to figure out what should our priorities be for the organisation and bring some kind of coordination together.\u201d\n \nThe \u2018Office of\u2019 model was the most common approach at present within businesses in the region, and identified in half of Asia Pacific companies. This figure is similar to the US (46 per cent) and Europe (56 per cent).\n \nThe Embedded Digital Business\n \nBest for: Accelerating digital transformation\n \nObjective: Implement digital transformation across enterprise\n \n\u201cIn this model we start to see the shift away from a central group and into putting more of the resources into the lines of business. That doesn\u2019t mean the central group goes away, in some cases you still see the central group, but it\u2019s much more lightweight. The central group mainly is the expertise centre for digital for the company, they may do some targeted experimentation,\u201d Whalen said.\n \n\u201cThe point of this one is that people start to own digital. Digi starts to become part of the way business is done.\u201d\n \nThis archetype has been identified by IDC as the optimum model for businesses going through a digital transformation.\n \n\u201cMaybe you do have to march through these various steps in order to get there. But this is where we think business need to get to. We need to get digital away from being a special project we\u2019re working on and into something that is just business as usual,\u201d Whalen said.\n \nIt is also one of the most difficult to achieve.\n \n\u201cYou\u2019re moving from a centralised group that is collaborating with the business groups to actually now saying digital is going to be part of all of our business, it\u2019s just how we do business. And to do that you really have to get all of the various lines of business in order,\u201d Whalen added.\n \n\u201cThat\u2019s a matrixed organisation. You can\u2019t just hand it out and tell the organisation \u2018ok, go and behave digitally\u2019. You still need some coordination activity to go on. And so you run into: how do you do that quickly? How do you assign financial targets so business units take ownership? How do you make sure you have one cohesive strategy across the organisation? If you\u2019re really going to move, the whole business has to be marching to one common strategy.\u201d\n \nIDC\u2019s Meredith Whalen: "You can\u2019t just hand it out and tell the organisation \u2018ok, go and behave digitally\u2019."\nIn this advanced archetype, Asia Pacific businesses are somewhat behind their global counterparts. Only 14 per cent of APAC companies were identified as having this model compared with 20 per cent in Europe and 25 per cent in the US.\nThe Digital Business Unit\n \nBest for: Creating innovative offerings\n \nObjective: Create a disruptive business\n \n\u201cThis fourth model really doesn\u2019t have much to do with the first three models. They don\u2019t happen too often,\u201d Whalen explained.\n \n\u201cSome companies \u2013 often they\u2019re very large \u2013 they\u2019ve set up a seperate digital business unit. The unit often has its own real estate, they\u2019ve hired in their own leader. And usually it becomes a magnet for attracting digital talent. And they\u2019re not really so concerned with transforming the organisation, this group is more concerned with: how do I create a disruptive business or offering?\u201d\n \nThe archetype emerges, Whalen says, because the \u2018parent\u2019 company is so big and bureaucratic, and full of so many legacy systems, it is more effective to \u201ccleave off\u201d and start a separate unit to focus on digital.\n \nThe archetype is more common in APAC than elsewhere. Some 13 per cent of companies in the region are taking this approach, compared with only 7 per cent in Europe and 3 per cent in the US.\n \nDespite being good at coming up with new products and working more closely with customers, IDC are not recommending the model \u2013 yet.\n \n\u201cIt is a very effective model in getting things done and getting them done quickly. The question in our mind is \u2013 and then what happens? When the group grows up and you\u2019ve got the mothership that\u2019s doing its own thing. How are we going to bring them back together again? We haven\u2019t seen the end game here,\u201d Whalen said.