The Digital Transformation Paradox

by Arnaud Bacros, Managing Director Enterprise Belgium & Luxembourg

Practice what you preach. This rule does not necessarily hold true for digital transformation as we found in our survey Digital Transformation Index. The real situation is that even though executives are well aware of the power and importance of establishing a digital strategy, many are not doing it.

In fact, our data shows that of nearly 75% of decision makers around the world who believe digital transformation could be more widespread throughout their organizations, only 33% are actually committing to the implementation of critical digital business attributes across their businesses. Looking deeper, it seems that many organizations are stuck in a paradox; where employees and decision makers believe in the power of digital transformation, 72% of executives confess that the appropriate actions are not being taken to implement new technology and digital strategies. Couple that with the fact that 45% of businesses globally have serious concerns that they may become obsolete within 3-5 years and that more than three quarters of executives feel significantly threatened by digital start-ups, it would seem that businesses are in need of some additional direction.

But where to start?

Well, we believe that successful digital transformation depends on the following five steps:

  1. Customers drive digital transformation, so differentiate with best-in-class technology

Consumer demand is quite predictable in that the majority of customers prize increased stability, accessibility, flexibility and efficiency above all else when accessing services, data and content. Businesses know this, but decision makers still confess that their organizations could and should be innovating more and six in 10 businesses globally are not meeting customer demands for high-quality products and services. Customers are the number one driver behind digital transformation and it is in meeting and exceeding their needs that businesses will excel.

  1. Use your customer data to inform future strategies

Transformation starts and ends with data, though analytics and data-capture are widespread in today’s marketplace, 72 per cent of businesses are still not using it to predict consumer behavior and demand. More than two thirds (64 per cent) of companies admit to not acting on intelligence in real-time and are unable to roll-out data-decision making across the business and until this changes, enterprises will continue to lose out to more informed competitors.

  1. Agility is the key to success, so be more agile!

Two years ago, business leaders came together to agree five attributes of a digital business and one of the most important was identified as agile innovation. Our data shows that 70 per cent of global organizations are not achieving this objective, largely due to reduced investment in software and application development and thereby extending the time to market. Winners get in fast and those businesses arriving at the table earlier will experience far less resistance from competition and are more likely to seize a significantly greater share of the pie.

  1. Put your money where your mouth is

Embracing digital transformation is an absolute must in today’s marketplace and everybody knows it. However, our survey showed that of the 73 per cent of executives that agree that digital transformation could be more widespread throughout their organization, only 39 per cent have seen innovative digital processes implemented across their organizations. Aligning business strategy with opinions from decision makers and vision from the c-suite will be key in realizing a successful digital transformation strategy.

  1. Enable investment in digital transformation through smart budget management

A third of businesses blame a lack of budget and resources for stymied transformation efforts, but there is still money coming in, as 67 per cent of respondents report a superlative revenue of $500m to $50bn. The data also offers an explanation – of the participants, only 41 per cent of organizations credit the board with having driven digital transformation, potentially signaling a lack of commitment from business leaders themselves. Where decision makers are not making the right decisions, it’s important that key influencers within the company come together to communicate the benefits of a modern digital strategy.

Transforming to new school thinking

We’ve established that long-running businesses of all sizes have serious concerns about competition from small, agile, digital start-ups, but the evidence suggests that many are sabotaging their own chances of survival by delaying digital transformation within their own organizations. At least part of this apprehension stems from a need to see disruptive technologies prove themselves in the market. The only problem here is that by the time innovative new solutions and strategies go mainstream, they have already been overtaken by the next big thing in development – meaning that again, digital start-ups speed ahead taking advantage of younger technologies.

There are ways around this. It’s possible to accelerate the adoption of new technologies through third party IT partners. Often the nature of the relationships between business leaders and service providers or consultants provides a quicker route to acceptance and implementation of a modern digital strategy. The key is to demonstrate the business benefits up front. If you can leverage a relationship with a trusted adviser, the process becomes much simpler and yields faster, better results.

It’s clear that the gap between the views of employees and business leaders regarding digital transformation in their own organization and actual implementation is creating a significant obstacle to progress. To deliver best-in-class products and services, businesses can no longer afford to wait to implement new technologies. Where additional barriers are created by decision makers, IT leaders will need to collaborate with trusted enterprise IT partners whose advice can more effectively resonate with the c-suite.

About the Author: Arnaud Bacros