RMIT: Embracing digital evolution: Management and innovation approaches to tackle challenges of contemporary industry

PhD researchers on a new project funded by the European Union will examine the multi-disciplinary aspects of digital transformation to generate new knowledge, tools, methods and roadmaps to guide businesses in their digital evolution.

The EINST4INE (the European Training Network for InduStry Digital Transformation across Innovation Ecosystems) project is recruiting 15 early-stage researchers to tackle key challenges faced by industries adapting to digital evolution across various innovation ecosystems.

In brief, the concept of innovation ecosystems describes the various actors and relationships involved in conceptualising and realising innovation.

Like the natural world equivalent, the players in these ecosystems are closely linked, and rely on each other to collaborate on joint initiatives, and share and cross-promote information and resources in the pursuit of a common goal: in this case, to boost innovation and competitiveness.

The complementary PhD topics and comprehensive research agenda will allow the early-stage researchers to examine various multi-level aspects of digital transformation – defined as socioeconomic change – across individuals, organisations, ecosystems and societies.

“Our early-stage researchers will traverse both the academic and business worlds in this project thanks to embedded industry secondments,” said Professor Anne-Laure Mention, Director of RMIT University’s Global Business Innovation Enabling Capability Platform and EINST4INE Project Coordinator.

“These placements will allow the examination of human and organisational strategy in a societal context increasingly shaped by the adoption and utilisation of digital technologies.”

Furthermore, the researchers will aim to uncover the role of different fast-developing technologies in the creation of innovation ecosystems by examining real-world case studies.

This new knowledge will generate roadmaps, frameworks, examples of best practice and assessment tools to assist managers and strategists as ecosystem orchestrators, digital transformation managers, and other actors to engage in fruitful innovation and co-create meaningful value propositions.

The research will also provide managerial and policy recommendations for companies to fulfil environmental sustainability using open innovation mechanisms.

Business meeting The 15 PhD researchers will traverse both the academic and business worlds through the project’s embedded industry secondments.
Preparing for and embracing digital transformation is a highly relevant cross-sectoral concern – the ability to adapt to new technologies through suitable staffing, strategies, organisational design, processes and structures can mean the difference between success and failure in its implementation.

A common uncertainty for many businesses is how to adapt and prepare for a world of work increasingly affected and influenced by new technologies, and what digital evolution means for us as members of the workforce, and society at large.

The place of collaborative robots (cobots), the use of virtual and augmented reality, and human-machine interactions in the workplace are some of the hot topics to be tackled by the EINST4INE PhD researchers.

While robots have traditionally functioned away from humans, cobots are designed specifically to coexist alongside us, interact with us and share our workplace.

The researchers will examine the knock-on effect of introducing collaborative robots into the workplace: how we adapt to and cooperate with our non-human ‘colleagues’, and how their presence affects behaviour, from both the organisational and individual perspective.

Specific examples to be studied include the robo-advisor revolution and its impact on the skillset and competencies of financial advisors.

The insights uncovered over the next few years will provide useful information and knowledge on the adaption of digital technologies, and how to optimise the integration of new tools with the human workforce.

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