Digital disconnect: Businesses still lack vision

Most organizations expect disruptive technologies to play a pivotal role in their future success, yet almost half are without a digital strategy and unclear as to who should lead it.


When I trained for my first marathon, my runner friends told me that preparation was crucial, so I invested in a good pair of sneakers and joined a running clinic. I finished the race with a slightly better time than predicted, and it taught me an important lesson about the role spadework plays in realizing a vision.

Strategy is also fundamental for organizations looking to capitalize on the digital revolution, but according to a recent study by IFS, it’s sorely lacking. Despite the fact most companies expect disruptive technologies such as mobile, cloud and the Internet of Things to play a key role in their future, almost half aren’t prepared for it, says IFS.

“This survey shows that senior leaders in large industries have realized the potential that digital transformation offers, but in many cases haven’t got a strategy in place to leverage it yet,” said Mark Boulton, chief marketing officer at IFS.

Worse, the research also highlights that most organizations don’t have a clear consensus on who’s responsible for the digital transformation agenda. When asked, respondents pointed to the CIO (40 per cent), CEO (39 per cent) and the CFO (35 per cent), while the CTO (20 per cent) and the CMO (six per cent) are not considered as influential.

“Companies must clarify their goals and outline clear strategies in order to utilize the full potential of digital transformation,” said Boulton.

A 2015 study by Forrester Research and Accenture, meanwhile, found it doesn’t necessarily matter whether the digital leader is a CEO, CIO or chief digital officer — only that the person is customer-focused in establishing a strategy to embed digital capabilities across the enterprise.

One of the stumbling blocks facing organizations, however, is that advances in digital technology are accelerating faster than the pace of transformation in organizations, reports Mark Edmead in a recent CIO.com post.

“Digital business transformation is the ultimate challenge in change management,” said Edmead. “Business leaders must constantly challenge their organizations to ensure this change can unlock productivity gains and significant competitive advantage all while delivering exceptional customer experience.”

In the digital world, business processes and supply chains will be interconnected, and the organizations poised to thrive will be the ones who evolve to meet this changing business landscape. Forrester study respondents cited “organization” as the dimension of their business least ready to execute digital strategy when compared with technology and operational processes.

B2B organizations aren’t as far along in their digital transformation as their consumer counterparts. Forrester reports that less than half said they had the technology, operational processes or organization in place to execute effectively on their digital strategies.

“They still lag behind consumer businesses across the board and are less likely to understand online consumer behaviour for their category or space or how digital strategy and tactics can drive success,” according to the Forrester report.

There are large pockets of value that digital technologies can help to unlock in the value chain, and business needs to have a clear picture of how digitization will affect their industry, organization and competitive position, suggests Didier Bonnet, senior vice-president of Capgemini Consulting.

“Digital technologies have also opened up myriad opportunities to fundamentally alter the way your business is traditionally conducted,” he said. “This requires vision, creative skills and, more often than not, opening up your organization to an ecosystem of innovative partners that can support you in this reinvention.”

Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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