Mohan Subramaniam

Professor of Strategy and Digital Transformation

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Mohan Subramaniam is Professor of Strategy and Digital Transformation. He focuses on the digital transformation of incumbent industrial firms and new sources of competitive advantage in the digital age. He is a recognized thought leader in digital strategy and has helped senior executives in several companies find new sources of value and growth for their companies when competing with data within emerging digital ecosystems.

He outlines his thinking in his 2022 book The Future of Competitive Strategy: Unleashing the Power of Data and Digital Ecosystems, which describes a new paradigm for competitive strategy anchored in data and digital ecosystems and the game-changing role of digital technologies in the modern economy. He says legacy firms have for decades anchored their competitive strategy in products and industry characteristics, but these approaches are now becoming outdated. The book therefore explains how legacy firms can harness their existing assets, infrastructure, and traditional strengths to leverage the new and explosive power of data by thoughtfully applying and emulating the best practices of digital titans such as Amazon and Google.

The transformational impact of digital technologies on business is comparable to what steam power, electricity, railroads, and computers has done to the industrial world over the last three centuries.

Subramaniam has worked with a wide range of companies in Europe (including Telekom Austria and Voestalpine Steel), the United States (General Motors, Avantor Corporation, Hamilton Sunstrand), and India (Dell Corporation, HP Enterprises, Honeywell, PepsiCo, Cognizant, Tata Consulting Services, Infosys, HCL and Aditya Birla Group, among others).

His articles regularly appear in Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review. He has also published articles in several leading academic journals such as Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, the Journal of Management, and the Journal of International Business Studies, and his research has been recognized by awards from Strategic Management Society, McKinsey Corporation, the Academy of Management, the Academy of International Business, and the Decision Sciences Institute.

Subramaniam serves as a member of the editorial advisory board of MIT Sloan Management Review, and he is an ad hoc reviewer for Strategic Management Journal, the Academy of Management Journal, Management Science, Organization Science, the Journal of International Business Studies, the Journal of Management Studies, the Journal of Product Innovation Management, and Information Systems Research.

Before joining IMD in August 2022, he was an Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the Carroll School of Management in Boston College. He was previously an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut and a lecturer at Boston University. He was also a visiting faculty member at IMD between 2016 and 2018.

Selected publications
The future of competitive strategy: Unleashing the power of data and digital ecosystems
Book
The future of competitive strategy: Unleashing the power of data and digital ecosystems
How can legacy firms remain relevant in the digital era? In The Future of Competitive Strategy, strategic management expert Mohan Subramaniam explains how firms can leverage both their traditional ...
Published 16 August 2022
Article
How smart products create connected customers
As leaders of legacy product and service companies anchored in traditional value chains seek ways to prosper in the digital economy, one of the most important questions they can ask is, “How can we...
Published 8 September 2022
Article
Is your company squandering digital opportunities?
More than 60 years ago, Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt famously argued that companies often fail because they focus so narrowly on products and services that they forget to keep ...
Published 8 August 2022
Article
The 4 tiers of digital transformation
Companies often assume that if they embrace digital technology in any way, they’re digitally transforming their business. As a result, they often make only ad hoc changes and investments in the dig...
Published 21 September 2021
Article
Learning from China's digital disruptors
Alibaba, a relative newcomer to financial services, has seen its small and medium-size enterprise (SME) lending business grow rapidly in the last four years, making it one of the leading lenders in...
Published 16 January 2019
Article
IBM's new battle in the cloud
IBM’s purchase of Red Hat is the largest acquisition in the history of software. According to The Wall Street Journal, this $33 billion acquisition is expected to shore up IBM’s position in cloud c...
Published 21 December 2018
Article
The next battle in antitrust will be about whether one company knows everything about you
Google’s battle with the European Union has come to a head. On June 27 this year, the EU fined Google $2.7 billion for alleged monopolistic or unfair trade practices. Google has appealed and is now...
Published 6 July 2017
Article
Mass customization and the do-it-yourself supply chain
Digital technology is expanding the options for consumers outside the boundaries of a firm’s traditional supply chain.
Published 5 April 2016
Article
The strategic value of APIs
Today, a firm without application program interfaces (APIs) that allow software programs to interact with each other is like the internet without the World Wide Web. Just as the World Wide Web open...
Published 7 January 2015
Academic publications
The future of competitive strategy: Unleashing the power of data and digital ecosystems
Book
The future of competitive strategy: Unleashing the power of data and digital ecosystems
How can legacy firms remain relevant in the digital era? In The Future of Competitive Strategy, strategic management expert Mohan Subramaniam explains how firms can leverage both their traditional ...
Published 16 August 2022
Article
International-market-information use across new-product-development stages: Antecedents and performance implications
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate how firms can better manage new product development (NPD) for international markets (IMs). This is not a trivial task as, for most firms, NPD st...
Published 23 August 2018
Article
How legacy firms can embrace the digital ecosystem via digital customer orientation
Because of modern digital technologies, business environments are turning into digital ecosystems, wherein a firm’s traditional interdependencies are increasingly influenced by digital connectivity...
Published 2 January 2020
Article
Competing in digital ecosystems
Digital technologies are revolutionizing traditional interdependencies among businesses. As a result, managers have begun to recognize their business environments as digital ecosystems. For firms a...
Published 2 January 2019
Article
The antecedents and consequences of affordable value innovations for emerging markets
Emerging markets offer tremendous growth opportunities for firms. While established multinational firms typically focus on premium segments in emerging markets, they often fail to leverage addition...
Published 2 January 2015
Article
From the special issue editors: Innovations for and from emerging markets
In the last decade, emerging markets have become a significant feature of the world economy. The allure of vast new markets for growth along with fresh opportunities for low cost offshoring have g...
Published 2 January 2015
Article
Competing globally, allying locally: Alliances between global rivals and host-country factors
An emerging literature highlights the relationship between competitive intensity and the likelihood that two rival firms will form an alliance. Placing this argument in an international context, we...
Published 7 March 2013
Article
Digital ecosystems and their implications for competitive strategy
This paper discusses some implications for competitive strategy when business environments are framed as digital ecosystems. Digital ecosystems are ecosystems shaped by interdependencies initiated ...
Published 29 May 2020
Article
Appropriating innovation's technical value: Examining the influence of exploration
In this study we examine how different approaches to exploratory search are used to generate an innovation influence appropriation of its technical value. Technical value is the benefit a firm deri...
Published 2 January 2014
Insight for Executives
Disruption disrupted: How new digital developments can put legacy firms back in pole position
Article
Disruption disrupted: How new digital developments can put legacy firms back in pole position
Drawing on insights explored in greater depth in his new book, The Future of Competitive Strategy, in this article Professor Subramaniam outlines the growing opportunities available to firms with a...
Published 22 November 2022
Article
Expanding competitive strategy mindsets from industries to digital ecosystems
Industries play a monumental role in the business world. They bestow firms with an identity. They help them find common buyers and suppliers, as well as identify key rivals. They provide a rich con...
Published 11 October 2022
How to use the white heat of technology to forge greater success
Article
How to use the white heat of technology to forge greater success
Competitive strategy in today’s world relies on data revenues, not products. Mohan Subramaniam offers three ways to think like a tech giant and boost the bottom line.
Published 16 September 2022
Article
How smart products create connected customers
As leaders of legacy product and service companies anchored in traditional value chains seek ways to prosper in the digital economy, one of the most important questions they can ask is, “How can we...
Published 8 September 2022
Article
Is your company squandering digital opportunities?
More than 60 years ago, Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt famously argued that companies often fail because they focus so narrowly on products and services that they forget to keep ...
Published 8 August 2022
Article
The 4 tiers of digital transformation
Companies often assume that if they embrace digital technology in any way, they’re digitally transforming their business. As a result, they often make only ad hoc changes and investments in the dig...
Published 21 September 2021
Article
How legacy businesses can compete in the sharing economy: By harnessing sensor data from the internet of things, providers of traditional products and services can participate in the sharing economy — boosting revenue in the process.
The term platform is commonly associated with vibrant ecosystems that connect various sets of users — drivers with riders (Uber), property owners with renters (Airbnb), searchers with advertisers (...
Published 8 June 2020
Article
Learning from China's digital disruptors
Alibaba, a relative newcomer to financial services, has seen its small and medium-size enterprise (SME) lending business grow rapidly in the last four years, making it one of the leading lenders in...
Published 16 January 2019
Article
IBM's new battle in the cloud
IBM’s purchase of Red Hat is the largest acquisition in the history of software. According to The Wall Street Journal, this $33 billion acquisition is expected to shore up IBM’s position in cloud c...
Published 21 December 2018
Article
The next battle in antitrust will be about whether one company knows everything about you
Google’s battle with the European Union has come to a head. On June 27 this year, the EU fined Google $2.7 billion for alleged monopolistic or unfair trade practices. Google has appealed and is now...
Published 6 July 2017
Article
Mass customization and the do-it-yourself supply chain
Digital technology is expanding the options for consumers outside the boundaries of a firm’s traditional supply chain.
Published 5 April 2016
Article
Corporate alliances matter less thanks to APIs
Eighteen years ago, five airline companies—Lufthansa, Air Canada, United Airlines, Thai Airways and Scandinavian Airlines—formed an alliance with a vision to offer better services to their customer...
Published 8 June 2015
Article
Are you using APIs to gain competitive advantage?
What do Uber (taxi services), Airbnb (lodging services), Facebook (social networking), Alibaba (e-commerce), and Paypal (online payment) have in common? The obvious things include: All of them driv...
Published 13 April 2015
Article
The strategic value of APIs
Today, a firm without application program interfaces (APIs) that allow software programs to interact with each other is like the internet without the World Wide Web. Just as the World Wide Web open...
Published 7 January 2015
The Future of Competitive Strategy
Book
The Future of Competitive Strategy
Unleashing the Power of Data and Digital Ecosystems (Management on the Cutting Edge)
Published 1 January 2000