Are You Digitally Mature? Your Organization’s Growth Depends on It

23 Jul 2018

Are You Digitally Mature? Your Organization’s Growth Depends on It

By Anthony Batchelor

We recently teamed up with Forrester Research to understand how businesses are adopting digital technology and identify success factors for successful growth and acceleration.

The result – our new Digital Business report – has identified three levels of digital maturity that most companies fall into: beginners, intermediate or advanced. Beginner companies focus on establishing new capabilities within the existing business, while intermediate organizations are fundamentally shifting their business model in support of better customer outcomes. The advanced companies are pushing the boundaries, finding new ways of delivering customer value and creating new revenue models. They are not just advancing their business: they are disrupting industries and markets.

Not surprisingly, we also discovered that these digitally advanced organizations are getting better results – demonstrating significantly higher growth rates than their less advanced counterparts, with at least 21% of them growing by 20% or more annually.

 

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Benchmarking Your Organization’s Digital Transformation

What’s enabling these organizations to grow so quickly? Survey data from 1,500 executives around the globe revealed that there are five key competencies of business leadership that must be mastered to successfully transform into a digitally mature business. They include having the right strategy, structure, culture, talent and technology. For leaders and their teams, this means that they must focus on the following:

Communicating a clear strategy. At advanced companies, 93% of executives report that they understand their digital strategy well. Digital leaders must help the CEO paint a clear picture of the business’ future and embrace the art of the possible. They are constantly seeking new ways to bring customers value.

Designing the right organization and governance structure. The internal business silos inherent in most organizations today represent one of the largest obstacles to becoming a digital business. The key is prioritizing agility and customer outcomes over operational efficiency.

Nurturing an outside-in culture. At advanced firms, 94% of execs say that they have the right culture to succeed, compared with just 12% of beginners. Nurture a system of shared values and behaviours that rewards experimentation. Digital transformation demands a customer-obsessed culture that supports continuous innovation.

Investing in flexible technologies. Only 15% of beginner firms feel that they have the right technology in place. Leverage technology as a strategic asset and focus on continuous evolution.

Attracting and retaining top talent. Of the advanced firms, 91% feel comfortable that they have the people and skills to execute their strategy compared with just 7% of beginners. Start your digital journey by building new skills, such as design thinking and journey mapping. Digital leaders advancing transformation should embed digital skills across business units. The most advanced companies see talent as a strategic asset. They attract and retain creative employees who see the world differently and provide the fuel to drive innovation.

 

Key Digital Talent Challenges for Canadian Companies

This brings us to a significant challenge that many Canadian organizations are having and that is recruiting the talent they need to move their organizations forward. The gap between innovators and everyone else is widening and, even if companies attract great talent, that talent will quickly walk out the door if their leaders are slow to change or if the culture is wedded to an old way of working. Leaders need to concentrate on developing high-potential talent and deliberately focusing culture and retention strategies that nurture and reward innovation. They also need to get creative about how they are filling their talent needs.

Specifically, we see three challenges that may be holding companies back from disrupting customer experiences, businesses and even markets:

 

Challenge #1: Attracting top talent when you’re not a first-mover.

Many Canadian companies are digital beginners. Conservative and risk-averse, they are not typically the first to disrupt markets. As a result, it can be challenging to attract high-calibre talent seeking work at innovative organizations and a talent shortage only exacerbates this. Top candidates may be less attracted to organizations who choose to maintain a safe market position.

While most organizations can’t offer the same benefits as Google or Amazon, they can still be innovative. High performers are often attracted by a culture that nurtures creativity and professional development opportunities and provides chances for growth.

 

Challenge #2: Setting realistic expectations.

Twenty years ago, the CIO was primarily focused on making sure that everyone’s desktops were working well. Today the expectations are much higher, with organizations demanding technology leaders who can completely transform their organizations and who have the expertise to guide them on a broad range of technology issues from managing data security risks to presenting digital strategy in the boardroom. But don’t expect to find a CIO/CTO/CDO/CSO all in one candidate. Take some time to really understand your needs and the skill sets that will support these – and be open to bringing more than one expert in to help you get to the next level of your digital maturity.

 

Challenge #3: Embracing the gig economy

In today’s digital environment, the timeframe for achieving results is getting shorter and shorter, forcing organizations to find talent that can produce tangible results quickly. Innovative companies are using interim executives to help drive the organizational transformation. Short-term hires with specialized skill sets and deep functional expertise, these independent executives can quickly acclimatize to the organization, analyze the most urgent challenges that may be holding the business back, and help to position the company to innovate and grow. They can help fill the technology gaps on your current leadership team.

In our fast-paced, ever-changing environment, the ability to adapt and change ranks more highly than ever. To innovate, organizations must be attracting and retaining the best talent – leaders that are resourceful, nimble and open to experimentation. They must be willing to be bold when it comes to their own digital journey. 

 

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Source: Digital Business 2018: Benchmark Your Digital Journey, Nigel Fenwick, Forrester, 2018.