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Working Papers | June 23, 2021

Digital Transformation in a White Collar Firm: Implications for Workers Across a Continuum of Jobs and Skills

Elisabeth Reynolds, Anna Waldman-Brown, Frank Ryan

WP14-2021

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For service-oriented, white-collar firms, the process of “digital transformation” began years ago, but the pace has accelerated as new AI/machine learning technologies have advanced (Matt, Hess, and Benlian, 2015; Frey, 2019). In many cases, there is a sense that firms are behind and need to “catch up”, though catch up to what remains somewhat elusive. New technologies go hand in hand with shifting operating models and management styles, such as the introduction of Agile and Industry 4.0 (Orlikowski, 2010; Davenport and Westerman, 2018). All of this leads to varying degrees of transformation across service-oriented firms. As customers’ demands became more volatile, product development timeframes shortened, and machine learning algorithms improved, businesses responded by developing more adaptive and dynamic strategies that focused on “responding to change over following a plan” (Highsmith and Cockburn, 2001; Beck et al., 2001).

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