How to get to digital maturity

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Digitally mature businesses are, on average, 26% more profitable than their industry competitors, according to a global study of almost 400 companies. They also generate 9% more revenue and enjoy 12% higher market valuation ratios.1 So what does “digitally mature” really mean? What does a digitally mature business really look like — are there traits we can recognise?

In fact, there are. The digitally mature business uses sophisticated tools to drive performance and demonstrates an on-going commitment to technology, technology-led initiatives and digitally managed processes. It utilises advanced solutions and actively seeks out ways of taking advantage of emerging technological opportunities — such as mobile, analytics, social media and embedded devices.

Not many companies would want to miss out on numbers like the ones I mentioned above. A recent study commissioned by Ricoh, surveying 1,245 business decision makers across Europe and the Middle East, revealed that 71% are confident they can transition to digital maturity within just five years.

Yet, is this realistic? And what will this take?

Building maturity

A business committed to technology and technology-led initiatives will move toward a more agile infrastructure — which may explain some of the financial benefits recounted above. An infrastructure that’s scalable and available on demand can better support growth and increased customer engagement. A more flexible infrastructure can better accommodate new channels (such as mobile) and potentially increase workforce productivity with new applications that are tightly integrated with existing systems and business processes.

The need for that investment, in terms of meeting customer expectations, is sharp: experts say 60% of CIOs need to implement agile architecture to support next-generation mobile applications, and 80% of consumer-facing businesses must integrate with public social networks.2

Completing the approach

But technology alone is not enough. In the study mentioned above, half the business leaders surveyed acknowledged three significant barriers to achieving digital maturity:

• Difficulty aligning technology, processes and new ways of working;
• Difficulty changing the way the organisation currently works to keep up with new technology already in place;
• Difficulty achieving digital maturity without the support of an external partner.

This is where leadership comes in. The introduction of new technologies should be matched by corresponding changes to work styles and processes. Achieving alignment among all these changes requires continual governance and close cooperation between lines of business and IT. The wisdom of this approach in the context of cloud-based, Big Data analytics — and how they can benefit iWorker productivity — are covered in a post by one of my colleagues.

Maturity requires change

It can be difficult working within an organisation to see across departments exactly how a digital transformation can support larger business goals. Not to mention finding the time to research technology options. Without that perspective, choosing new solutions may actually exacerbate problems: disrupting existing workflows, impacting other organisations and discouraging workers from embracing new tools and processes that could make them more productive and energised.

An experienced partner in transformation brings distinct advantages:
• A broader, cross-functional perspective — even a view across industries of what has worked and what new technologies have proven successful;
• The ability to objectively evaluate the technology, processes and workers currently deployed, and to use that evaluation to identify opportunities to move toward digital maturity;
• The ability to manage change and drive adoption through education and training on new technologies and processes.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of working with an experience partner is time. They can engage quickly and ‘hit the ground running’ with resources and established transformation procedures. This kind of partnership is arguably the fastest way to achieve some of the business benefits of real digital maturity.

More information about the leading edge of digital competitiveness:
• Millenials and Social Media: An Information Channel You Can’t Ignore
• Toward a New Idea of Business Agility
• Be Careful What You Ask For: Growing Your Data Security Ecosystem
• The Down-to-Earth Benefits of Cloud-Based Big Data Analytics

1 The Digital Advantage: How digital leaders outperform their peers in every industry,” MIT Center for Digital Business and Capgemini Consulting, 2012.

2 IDC 2014 Predictions: CIO Agenda

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