Digital Transformation or Digital Denial?

  • Digital technologies are radically transforming every facet of business. From the customer experience to employee engagement, user expectations keep growing. Yet many organizations have been resistant change. This inaction now leaves digital decision makers facing a stark reality: They must digitally transform to survive -- and do it quickly.

    While most understand the inherent benefits of going digital, the majority of respondents are hitting roadblocks, including lack of internal alignment, lack of adequate skills, and cultural resistance. Couple these obstacles with technology constraints, and an overall inability to execute impedes progress. The result is a growing state of anxiety about embarking on digital transformation, with some fearing it may already be too late, as Progress learned in a global survey of more than 700 digital decision makers.

    Click inside for more findings from the report, "Are Businesses Really Digitally Transforming or Living in Digital Denial? A Report on the State of Digital Business."

  • Current State of Affairs
    Digital transformation and digital business have been getting a lot of attention among organizations, the media, and within the C-suite. It is also widely recognized that this transformation is much more than technology alone. It is a transformation of an entire organization to become more agile and to deliver more compelling customer experiences. It is a top-to-bottom rethink of what it means to operate in a digital world, requiring changes to the way an organization operates -- inside and out. And this rethink is taking place among digital decision makers in the smallest of companies to the largest of global enterprises, as shown in the slide above.

  • Making Inroads with Digital Transformation
    At 86%, the bulk of respondents say their organizations have two years to make inroads with digital transformation (55% say a year or less) before they begin to suffer from financial or competitive threats. Placing even more urgency on the situation, 59% of respondents indicated they are worried they may be too late already.

  • Having a Defined Digital Strategy
    Three quarters, or 76%, of respondents said they have a defined digital transformation strategy. Most of these decision makers (75%) are still taking incremental steps in their digital transformations and have not yet fully rolled out or put their digital strategies into production. Of those who don't yet have a defined strategy (24%), many know it is important for their organizations, but haven't made time to start evaluating a process (49%).

  • Living in Digital Denial?
    For every thought leader who understands the need to be digital, there are others living in varying states of denial. Nearly all (96%) of those surveyed said their organizations see digital transformation as critical or important, yet among them 48% said that it is not a top priority. Among the decision makers who said their organizations do not see digital transformation as a top priority, 62% said their organizations are in denial about the need to transform. Two thirds (65%) of those respondents noted colleagues feel digital transformation is nothing new, just a term for what their organizations are already doing.

  • Content Is King Across Channels
    In many cases, siloed business structures cause employees and businesses to act in a tactical manner versus taking a more holistic approach. In alignment with our assessment, one third (34%) of survey respondents said they believe their businesses are extremely effective at managing and utilizing digital content and channels, but 63% said they have historically focused more on the digital channel than the content.

    In an age where content remains king and the channels by which customers receive it are quickly becoming commoditized, organizations must re-evaluate priorities to attain new levels of customer interaction.

  • Lack of Confidence in Digital Transformation
    According to respondents, confidence in the levels of digital transformation is questionable -- only around 25% of businesses are extremely confident in having access to the right third parties (28%), appropriate technologies (28%), appropriate metrics (28%), leadership buy-in (28%), and the best people in the right places in the organization (25%).

  • C-Suite and Digital Transformation
    Organizations that tend to approach their digital efforts in the siloed ways of the past will not achieve the desired results. Transformation is a collaborative process through which all functions need to come together. Survey respondents agreed, with 78% saying their IT and marketing teams could be better aligned to deliver on their digital transformation efforts.

    The breakdown in alignment at the CIO/CMO level is opening new opportunity for the chief digital officer, a role that may not be completely welcome in an already overly complex hierarchy of decision makers -- where roles and responsibilities are becoming unclear. An added silo only brings additional confusion and complexity.

  • Digital Transformation Breakdown
    Current approaches for digital transformation strategy are typically focused on website content (68%), e-commerce (62%), social media (53%), email marketing (51%), mobile (38%), and SEO (18%). Three quarters of respondents (74%) said they are looking for flexibility where they can leverage a combination of digital solutions and services that make sense for their organizations. Organizations are also looking to deliver safety and security (61%), speed/responsiveness (60%), consistency across channels (48%), and personalization/relevance (47%).

  • Conclusion
    It's easy for an organization to overlook the need for change, but the data is clear -- businesses must move toward a digital strategy that will improve the customer experience and engagement, boost efficiency, and increase organizational excellence -- or inevitably become irrelevant. With many thought leaders hesitating, digital transformation presents an opportunity for any business looking to advance. The question is: Which companies will succeed in not only adopting the right technology solutions, but also in leading the organizational shifts necessary to succeed?

A by-the-numbers look at the state of digital business today