Digital competencies have become vital to achieving business goals, according to new research by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In Benchmarking competencies for digital performance, commissioned by Riverbed, eight in ten respondents see digital competencies as being either very or extremely important in achieving, among other things, revenue growth, service quality, mission delivery, profit growth/cost reduction, user experience and customer satisfaction.
Eight in ten senior business and government leaders say digital competencies are either very or extremely important to achieving their organisational goals according to a new Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU) survey, commissioned by Riverbed Technology.
However, notable digital-competency gaps exist. More than half of respondents (57%) say their organisations are struggling to achieve important goals because they lack key digital competencies. An even higher percentage (65%) say these gaps have negatively impacted user experience.
IT departments need to evolve in order to keep pace with digital transformation. 78% of high-performing organisations say their top digital competency for achieving goals is modernisation and transformation of IT infrastructure.
The study is based on a survey of more than 500 senior business and government leaders across the world, focused on assessing nine behaviours, skills and abilities that help organisations improve their digital performance and, ultimately, achieve their objectives. Accompanying the study is a digital competency assessment tool, which enables users to benchmark their organisation’s competencies and performance against all survey respondents. The tool can be accessed at https://digitalcompetency.economist.com/.
The survey uncovers a shared awareness among businesses that digital transformation is necessary to achieve their goals and remain competitive. Yet, more than half of organisations say they are struggling to achieve these important goals because they lack digital competencies. In particular, 65% of respondents say that their digital-competency gaps have negatively affected user experience, which explains why almost half of respondents say they need to significantly improve digital experience management.
The central importance that companies place on improved digital competency comes despite the fact that some firms are yet to achieve meaningful results. About a third of organisations surveyed report only neutral or no measurable benefits from their digital strategies. The issues appear especially problematic in the public sector, with 60% of private-sector respondents describing their IT modernisation/transformation as advanced, compared with only 45% in the public sector.
In terms of overcoming this capability gap, the IT function plays a pivotal role. High performers are aware that IT must be agile, as 78% cite IT infrastructure modernisation and transformation as their top digital competency for achieving their goals. In addition, enabling greater communication and collaboration between IT and the rest of the organisation (where digital competencies may be scarce) can significantly improve digital performance and user experience.
High performers believe a continual focus is also vital, with fully 57% of them committed to improving all digital competencies, compared with 46% of others. Unlike other respondents, high performers also use a wider approach to developing digital competencies, including establishing a cross-functional digital competency centre of excellence and/or appointing a Chief Digital Officer (CDO).
Robert Powell, Editorial Director of EIU Thought Leadership (Americas), says: “The study shows a clear consensus among respondents that improving digital competency is vital for boosting organisational performance, even if some are not yet witnessing the results. Nevertheless, among the highest performing, the lessons are clear—do not hesitate, encourage internal collaboration, and, even if you feel ahead of your competition, never stop looking over your shoulder.”
About The Economist Intelligence Unit
The EIU is the thought leadership, research and analysis division of The Economist Group and the world leader in global business intelligence for executives. We uncover novel and forward-looking perspectives with access to over 650 expert analysts and editors across 200 countries worldwide. More information can be found on www.eiuperspectives.economist.com.