Digital technologies cannot work wonders for organisations if they don't align their social systems accordingly

Industrial organisations are adopting advanced digital technologies that have disruptive and exponential powers to make the organisations agile, collaborative and customer-centric. To achieve this goal through digital technologies, industrial organisations should pay attention to readjustments of their social systems, shows a recent doctoral dissertation by Faisal Imran.

Faisal Imran’s doctoral dissertation at the University of Vaasa examines digital transformation processes of leading industrial organisations to identify the “must-do” things for impactful digital transformation. For his dissertation, Imran interviewed forty-one top industrial executives.

– Industrial organisations need to have competent leadership that is capable of realigning organisational structures and developing a right organisational culture to support the implementation of new digital technologies, says Imran, who will defend his dissertation on 10 November 2023.

Role of leaders is key to achieve digital transformation

The results of the study show that the role of leaders is extremely significant in driving impactful digital transformation in organisations. Leaders need to re-analyse their existing competencies as well as their organisational roles and update them according to the digital transformation needs. They must create a digital vision for their company to motivate and inspire employees.

Leadership must come out of their comfort zone and work across the organisation, beyond their given titles and roles. They need to play the role of a digital champion and lead by example for new digital tools to be adopted.

The results of Imran's study show that leaders need to break down the traditional rigid structures in order to harmonise digital tools across the organisation. They have to reduce the number of layers in their organisational hierarchy to enhance collaboration across different levels of the organisation.

In addition, leaders need to develop new cultural values to support digital transformation. They must introduce new rituals to celebrate success and reward desired behaviours for digital transformation.

– By leading from the front, they must remove negative assumptions that are hurdles to the successful adoption of new digital tools. Above all, they must promote a culture of experimentation where failures are not punished but seen as learning opportunities to avoid similar mistakes in future, says Imran.

Customers are at the centre stage for digital transformation

According to the doctoral study, case organisations are focused on integrating customers with their systems and structures. Everything that organisations do for digital transformation must revolve around their customers. One of the ultimate goals of digital transformation is to enhance the customer experience to keep them in the long-term.

The adoption of digital technologies enables organisations to co-create with their customers. Organisations use various digital platforms to bring customers closer allowing them to give real-time feedback during the manufacturing process. This not only increases customers’ trust, but also develops a strong long-term relationship between the customers and the organisation.

The findings of Imran’s doctoral dissertation are based on four sub-studies that examined the digital transformation of leading industrial organisations in the Nordic countries. Imran interviewed top executives from the case organisations who were directly responsible for the digital transformation of their respective companies.


Public defence

The public examination of M.Sc. Faisal Imran’s doctoral dissertation "Digital transformation of industrial organisations: A sociotechnical study on the role of leadership, structure and culture in achieving performance outcomes" will be held on Friday 10.11.2023 at 14 at the University of Vaasa, lecture hall F118 (Fabriikki).

The public defence will also be streamed online: (Zoom, password: 715465)

Professor Stefan Trzcielinski (Poznan University of Technology) and Professor Magnus Hellström (Åbo Akademi) will act as opponents and Professor Jussi Kantola as a custos.

Doctoral dissertation

Imran, Faisal (2023) Digital transformation of industrial organisations: A sociotechnical study on the role of leadership, structure and culture in achieving performance outcomes. Acta Wasaensia 519. Doctoral dissertation. Vaasan yliopisto / University of Vaasa.

Publication pdf


Further information

Faisal Imran, tel. +358 45 647 1664, email faisal.imran (@)

Faisal Imran was born in Nankana Sahib, Pakistan. He completed his BBA degree in Finance at the COMATS University of Technology Lahore in Pakistan in 2011 and his M.Sc. degree in Industrial Management at the University of Vaasa, Finland in 2015. He is Managing Director and founder of FinnBox Post Oy and EU Director and co-founder of Reliance Solutions Oy.

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