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Many businesses are just beginning their digital transformation journeys

Isaac Sacolick | April 26, 2017
Results from three surveys suggest many organizations have delivered benefits from digitally driven initiatives, but transformation is a journey in progress and CIO have to invest more in executing digital and analytics programs.

digital transformation journey
Credit: Vin Crosbie

Are CEOs understanding the importance of digital transformation? If digital transformation is a journey, then how many organizations have started it and can we infer how far industries are in their transition to become digital businesses? What are some of the benefits being realized by those that have delivered outcomes from digital transformation?

If digital is a strategic priority, are CIOs stepping up to their new leadership role, digital charter, and added responsibilities to grow digital business and improve customer experiences? Have business leaders changed their expectations of IT and partner with them on growing the business? Have CIO successfully changed the mindset, culture, and skills of IT to be more customer focussed, digitally savvy, and analytics driven?

I decided to scan some recent industries surveys to develop some insights.


Business leaders ahead of CEOs in driving digital business

Gartner’s recent survey of 388 CEOs suggest that they are beginning to grasp how important digital business is to their growth and customer relationships. “Forty-seven percent of CEOs are being challenged by the board of directors to make progress in digital business, and fifty-six percent said that their digital improvements have already improved profits.” In response, forty-two percent of these CEOs have started digital business transformation and thirty-one percent recognize IT-related priorities as one of their top three in 2017. In addition, fifty-six percent said that digital improvements were improving profitability and twenty percent are taking a “digital-first” approach to business change.

This data suggests that overall, we’re probably about one-third to one-half of the way through the digital transformation journey as there’s still another half of CEOs who haven’t started. About half the ones that have started the journey have delivered business outcomes and about a quarter have recognized the business and cultural changes need to be digitally driven. This suggests that digitally driven initiatives have delivered value, but the overall transformation to a digital business is a work in progress.

Fujitsu’s recent survey of 1600+ business leaders is more optimistic. They cite eighty-nine percent that have started digital transformation initiatives with thirty-four percent of them having already delivered business outcomes. The good news is that outcomes of their digital transformation efforts are hitting the key focus areas including improvements in customer relationships, strengthening products, and business growth.

This suggests that business leaders still have to develop their relationships and business cases around digital transformation with their CEOs. The CEOs pursuing digital transformation may be in industries like media, financial services, retail, or healthcare where there is a stronger urgency and board mandate to enable digital experiences and drive efficiencies through automation. Business leaders, including CIO need to help the other fifty-three percent of CEO that haven’t started digital transformation programs understand its strategic importance and can now leverage example outcomes from other industries to develop business cases.


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