Benchmarking Competencies for Digital Performance - Part 1
May 08, 2019

Amena Siddiqi

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The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) just released a new study commissioned by Riverbed that explores nine digital competencies that help organizations improve their digital performance and, ultimately, achieve their objectives. Accompanying the study is a first-of-its-kind online benchmarking tool that enables users to assess how their organization's digital competencies compare to peers, all survey respondents, and high performers.

In the global study Benchmarking Competencies for Digital Performance, EIU contends that every organization in every industry is becoming a digital organization. Now, what sets organizations apart are digital competencies and how effectively they develop the right behaviors, skills, and abilities to maximize digital performance and achieve strategic objectives.

This comprehensive research report, which also contains insights from thought leaders at The Permanente Federation, Harvard Business School, International Data Corporation (IDC), Microsoft, and CommonSpirit Health, is a must-read for business and government leaders who are driving and/or supporting digital transformation initiatives for their organizations.

Here's a brief summary of 7 key research findings you'll find covered in detail in the report:

1. Digital competencies matter - they directly impact business outcomes

Eight in ten respondents say digital competencies are either very or extremely importantto achieving strategic goals such as revenue growth, service quality, mission delivery, profit growth/cost reduction, and customer satisfaction. This is relatively consistent across segments, although more pronounced in the retail, media and technology industries, where a majority of respondents described digital competencies in the strongest way, as extremely important for growth.

2. Some competencies are perceived to be more important to meeting goals

While all nine competencies are important, survey respondents believe the top five for meeting organizational goals are:

■ data analytics

■ workplace transformation

■ product and service innovation

■ digital experience management

■ IT infrastructure modernization

Unlike other respondents, high performers say their number one competency is IT infrastructure modernization, cited by nearly 78%.

In addition, high performers actually place less emphasis on data analytics (eighth place) compared with other respondents (first place), perhaps because they already leverage analytics on a regular basis.

3. Digital-competency gaps exist, limiting benefits and causing poor user experience

More than half (54%) of respondents say they're unsatisfied with their organization's progress on developing digital competencies. Even more (57%) say their organizations are struggling to achieve important goals because they lack key digital competencies. Consequentially, one-third of surveyed organizations report only neutral or no measurable benefits from their digital strategies.

In addition, nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents say their digital-competency gaps have negatively affected user experience. This may explain why nearly half (48%) of respondents indicated they need to significantly improve , the competency most relevant to monitoring application, network, infrastructure and device performance to measure and improve user experience.

4. High performers are significantly ahead, but not complacent

High performers, as would be expected, more frequently say their organizations are ahead of the competition. Eight in ten (81%) on average say their progress is running ahead of peers and are more than twice as likely to say they are significantly ahead of rivals in three competencies: IT infrastructure modernization, automation of business processes, and development approaches such as Agile .

However, high performers understand that both digital transformation and improving digital competencies require continual focus. For this reason, 57% of high performers on average see a need to improve across all digital competencies, compared with 46% of others. What are the top five competencies they want to improve? Product and service innovation, business process automation, workplace transformation, talent recruitment, and digital experience management.

Read: Benchmarking Competencies for Digital Performance - Part 2

About the Study

The Economist Intelligence Unit in January-February 2019 surveyed 512 senior-level leaders in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific who work at 1,000+ employee global, multinational companies or government institutions. The study focused on eight industries (industrials, energy & materials, financial services, retail, media/entertainment/publishing, technology/telecommunications, healthcare, professional services, and government) and nine digital competencies:

1. analytics using customer and/or operational data from digital systems;
2. ability to manage and measure the user and/ or employee digital experience;
3. digital product and service innovation;
4. digital talent recruitment, retention and management;
5. IT infrastructure modernization/ transformation;
6. automation of business processes with digital technology;
7. digital development techniques (e.g., Agile, design thinking);
8. organization-wide digital transformation strategy; and
9. workplace transformation with digital technologies.

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 Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Amena Siddiqi is Sr. Director of Product Marketing for Headspin
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