Learn how to adapt to digital disruptions

Learn how to adapt to digital disruptions

10 minute read

Dr Armin Haller


The ANU College of Business and Economics (CBE) is launching a new program that addresses a growing demand – Graduate Certificate of Digital Transformation.

A great option for lifelong learners and those looking to re-skill, this program will equip students with the skills to assess the different types of digital disruption, and a solid foundation of how digital technologies have and are changing companies and industries. Furthermore, it will enable them to transform business models, processes, cultures and organisations in response to those disruptions.

The Australian Federal Government has selected the Graduate Certificate of Digital Transformation for Commonwealth Supported Places, which will help nominated students save on their tuition fees.

In this interview, Dr Armin Haller, the program convenor, discusses the power of innovation, the benefits of specialised educational offerings, and his recent impressions from the field.



Dr Armin Haller | Photo: Andrew Taylor


Q. How will students expand their knowledge of digital technologies by completing this new program?

Our students are already well versed in the everyday use of digital technologies. This program is less about gaining technical knowledge of those technologies and more about their impact on business and society. It focuses on the students’ ability to identify and analyse the effect of, including problems associated with, new and emerging digital technologies on the current operating model of a company. It will cover how to leverage technologies to help reimagine organisational strategies, people, and processes to deliver better products and services.

Q. Talk us through the specialised range of courses this program has to offer.

The program starts with a course on Intelligent Business Analysis, where students learn basic systems theory, as well as models and techniques to analyse digital technologies, or more broadly speaking, information systems used in an organisation.

In the Technology and Project Management course that follows, students are introduced to the principles and management of projects. The emphasis is on understanding how organisational innovation can be managed through projects, along with the use of technologies to handle data, information and knowledge resources to increase business effectiveness. These methods inform participants about project designs that should be implemented when an organisation is required to react to digital disruption.

Understanding different forms of this disruption is discussed in the capstone course Digital Transformation. Students will critically analyse and be able to choose the appropriate concepts and theories for dissecting an organisation’s business model. They will then compare all types of relevant evidence towards deciding upon an appropriate new business model for a disrupted organisation. Students will later design a business case and implementation plan for a new business model for an organisation of their choosing.

The final course is an elective, where program participants can choose to deepen their knowledge in a particular area. Their options include the analysis of the implementation phase of a digital transformation project; focussing on leadership skills to develop the mindset, organisational culture and skills to lead a team through a successful digital transformation; or building tools and processes that entrepreneurs can use to create new business ventures. 

Q. Students will be taught by academics and industry experts from the business-information systems disciplines, using an evidence-based management (EBM) framework. How will this teaching benefit students? 

Our unique EBM course can be selected as an elective. However, all of the courses will follow an evidence-based approach that assists learners in increasing their knowledge, whilst enhancing their skills and capabilities in decision-making. Students will be searching for and making use of evidence from different sources, including scientific literature, practitioners’ expertise, organisations’ data and stakeholders’ values and concerns.

This integrated framework incorporates evidence-based educational activities, which provide a systematic hands-on experience with digital disruption. It requires students to rely on a combination of theoretical knowledge, research methods, reflection and critical action towards identifying the best-suited business model transformation, given a particular digital disruption.

This program focuses on the students’ ability to identify and analyse the effect of, including problems associated with, new and emerging digital technologies on the current operating model of a company.

Q. How have digital technologies transformed business models and cultures?

There is hardly any industry that has not been disrupted by digital technologies. In the early days of the internet, newspapers and media outlets were the first to feel the brunt of the digital wave. The music industry was then impacted with the introduction of mp3s and the emergence of Napster. In the last few years, industries that don’t sell digital technologies per se, such as transportation and mobility services, manufacturing and even agriculture, have been the ones to be transformed by technology.

From a cultural point of view, and this can be observed in many domains, customers increasingly don’t want to own a product, but would rather rent it. In developing countries, it goes as far as renting basketballs, rather than owning them. In developed countries, we can see the pay-as-you-go model for many types of products, including luxury cars and motorbikes, and basic home improvement equipment. We can even observe a much more time-bound use of services, such as insurances or public permits for a few hours or days, rather than for a year.

Q. Have any recent developments in the digital-technology field impressed you and why? 

I find it fascinating how 30 years after Microsoft became the monopoly provider of operating system (OS) Windows, which is used on personal desktop computers, it is still the digital technology with the largest potential to dominate industries today. Now, Apple and Google generate all the profits in the mobile space because they own access to user data due to the dominance of their mobile OS (iOS and Android). Google is also eating away the profits of manufacturers in the television and smart-home sectors, as Android is becoming the de-facto monopoly OS in these industries. Everyone is now fighting for dominance of the car operating system, with Apple, Google and Tesla again in the best positions to reap all the profits from a car-as-a-service, with other manufacturers risking being demoted to building the shell, as has happened to Sony and Panasonic with TVs.

The Graduate Certificate of Digital Transformation commences in February 2021 and applications are now open. Click here for more details.

This program is currently available to Domestic students only, with options for part-time and full-time study.

The ANU College of Business and Economics offers an extensive range of specialised programs. Click here for more details.