Governance of Digital Transformation: As observed in two cases of military transformations


  • JUHA KAI MATTILA Aalto University



Digital transformation, ICT governance methods, IS management, Action research, Complex socio-technical system


The transformation of a modern socio-technical system is challenging. Notably, the digital transformation of an enterprise's business or operational model is an arduous journey toward success. Recent studies illustrate that 70% of business enterprise digital transformations fall short of their objectives. Without revenue-based performance indicators, the digital transformations of military organisations are, if possible, even more challenging. However, governance methods should assist in the complex transformation of interrelated features like human behaviour, business processes, information, data, and technology. Are they applied, and how feasible the standard Information and Communications Technology (ICT) governance methods are in supporting digital transformation in the defence sector?


The paper studies how feasible the contemporary ICT -governance methods are for military organisations while executing digital transformation. The research implements the action research method since the researcher has participated in two journeys of military transformation. First, a review of these two cases shows the military utilisation of the governance methods and models. Second, the standard methods are reflected against the most challenging transformation problems to see if they could provide support. Third, the methods are challenged by the range of variety in complex system transformations to test their flexibility.


Based on the research on two digital transformations, military enterprises seem to fall short in applying central ICT governance standards and methods. Therefore, they are not getting the best available support. Secondly, the contemporary governance methods do not address all the pain points in military transformation. Hence, the utilisation degree and transformation benefits are not well correlated. Thirdly, modern governance tools are inflexible in addressing various situations, transformation goals, and organisational maturity. In summary, the research surfaces some new gaps within the contemporary ICT governance toolbox when applied to the complex socio-technical transformation in the defence sector.