Digital competencies have become vital to achieving business goals but ‘notable’ gaps exist and IT departments need to evolve in order to keep pace with digital transformation, new research warns.
Eight in 10 senior business and government leaders say digital competencies are either very or extremely important to achieving their organisational goals.
But according to the Benchmarking competencies for digital performance survey, three-fifths of respondents (57 per cent) report their organisations are struggling to achieve important goals because they lack key digital competencies.
These goals included, among other things, revenue growth, service quality, mission delivery, profit growth/cost reduction, user experience and customer satisfaction.
The EIU report is based on a survey of more than 500 senior business and government leaders across the world. It focused on assessing nine behaviours, skills and abilities that help organisations improve their digital performance and, ultimately, achieve their objectives.
The survey reveals a shared awareness among businesses that digital transformation is necessary to achieve their goals and remain competitive. As well as struggling to achieve important goals because they lack digital competencies, notably, two-thirds of respondents say that their digital-competency gaps have negatively affected user experience. This explains why almost half of respondents say they need to significantly improve digital experience management.
“The message is loud and clear to leaders: invest in your people and yourselves to make sure you have the skills required to ensure the business is fit for the future.”
The study also notes the central importance that companies place on improved digital competency despite the fact that some firms have yet to achieve meaningful results.
One third of organisations surveyed report only neutral or no measurable benefits from their digital strategies. Issues appear especially problematic in the public sector, with three-fifths of private sector respondents describing their IT modernisation and transformation as advanced, compared with less than half in the public sector (45 per cent).
In terms of overcoming this capability gap, the IT function plays a pivotal role, the study points out. High performers are aware that IT must be agile, as four-fifths (78 per cent) 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.
Commenting on the findings, Richard Chiumento, director of Rialto Consultancy, stressed that the research clearly shows a lack of digital skills is impeding organisations from achieving goals that directly affect the bottom line, such as revenue and profit growth. “The message is loud and clear to leaders: invest in your people and yourselves to make sure you have the skills required to ensure the business is fit for the future,” he said.
The Benchmarking competencies for digital performance study by the Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU) was commissioned by Riverbed.