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New ‘DIGIT Lab’ launched to help businesses close digital transformation gap

A new research centre involving three academics from Oxford Brookes Business School will help large organisations adapt to the rapid pace of digital transformation in society.

The DIGIT (Digital Innovation for Growth, Impact and Transformation (DIGIT) Lab has been announced as one of six new national Next Stage Digital Economy Centres by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Almost £12million is being invested in Centres over five years, including more than £5million from industry partners and a £3.6million investment from EPRSC.  More information can be found here.

Led by the University of Exeter Business School, the DIGIT Lab will work together with large established organisations to reimagine them for the digital age – in ways that go beyond merely digitising current products and practices to address core transformation challenges.

COVID-19 has demanded urgent digital transformation

Professor Tim Vorley, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Oxford Brookes Business School said: “The global pandemic has demanded urgent change in terms of digital transformation. Large organisations have faced huge challenges in recent months.

“From transitioning staff to remote working, adopting new approaches to supply chain management and product delivery, society is demanding digitally-powered approaches to business on a scale and depth that we’ve not seen before.”

60% of the UK economy is struggling to adapt

Adopting digital technology to increase productivity is seen as crucial to the UK’s future success but according to Professor of Digital Economy Alan Brown, at the University of Exeter Business School’s INDEX (Initiative in Digital Economy Exeter) research centre, large established organisations, which make up 60% of the UK economy, are still struggling to adapt.

“Large organisations face significant challenges in a time of massive change,” said Professor Brown.

“Use of digital technology can improve their performance. However, their size and heritage can inhibit substantial changes to how they work. It requires change beyond technology – to embrace the people, the skills, the organisation, the business model, the way of thinking and the culture to work in a completely different way for a digital world.

“They must now move quickly to create digital products and deliver them digitally to an audience that demands digital interaction.”

Research is vital to the future of the UK economy

The DIGIT Lab is focusing on key questions considered vital to the future of the UK digital economy; can large established organisations use digital transformation to increase productivity and value, while not compromising on employee wellbeing or their social responsibilities?

The research team at Oxford Brookes includes Dr Jeremy Zwiegelaar and Dr Cristian Gherhes as well as Professor Tim Vorley, along with project partners from the University of East Anglia and leading businesses including animal health firm Zoetis, AB Foods, and the agricultural chemical company Syngenta.

The DIGIT Lab will develop novel research insights and create knowledge frameworks and tools, while translating their findings into concrete steps designed to have a real-world impact for industry and the economy.

Details of the other Next Stage Digital Economy Centres which were previously announced can be found at Gov.uk.