Benchmarking Competencies for Digital Performance - Part 2
May 09, 2019

Amena Siddiqi

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The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released a new study commissioned by Riverbed, Benchmarking Competencies for Digital Performance, that explores nine digital competencies that help organizations improve their digital performance and, ultimately, achieve their objectives. Part 1 of the blog covered the first four key research findings from the report. The following is 5 through 7:

Start with: Benchmarking Competencies for Digital Performance - Part 1

5. Expectations for IT are rising; most are not ready for the challenge

When asked who is mandated with developing and delivering their organization's digital competencies, 51% of respondents say their IT departments have a leadership role. The critical question is whether IT departments are prepared to take on a leadership role in which collaborating with other functions and disseminating knowledge and digital performance data are requirements.

The research suggests that only a minority may actually be ready for a shift of focus. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents say their IT departments, instead of leading digital competency in other departments, limit themselves to technology implementation and management. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents say that poor communication between IT and other departments limits their organizations' digital competencies.

6. IT and non-IT functions have conflicting perspectives on their digital competencies

IT professionals actually overestimate the level of digital competencies in non-IT functions. For example, 61% of IT respondents describe their organization's non-IT staff as advanced at digital experience management. However, only 45% of non-IT respondents rate themselves that high.

Conversely, non-IT respondents generally have a lower estimation of their IT department's competencies than IT professionals themselves across several competencies including digital transformation strategy, workplace transformation, IT infrastructure modernisation, digital experience management, and the use of data analytics.

These gaps reflect communication challenges between functions and raise questions about how much collaboration is really taking place, how organizations measure their own competencies and, ultimately, whose responsibility is it to ensure an organization's digital competencies are driving performance.

7. Developing digital competencies isn't easy; high performers point the way forward

The top challenge to developing digital competencies is the complexity of change itself, cited by 43% of respondents. Other significant challenges include legal or security concerns (37%); rigid systems, networks and infrastructure (32%); lack of digital understanding, talent and skills (30%); and insufficient funding (29%).

However, more than half (52%) of high performers say they are extremely confident about overcoming challenges, compared with 22% of others. They adopt concurrent and a wider variety of approaches to digital competency development. More than half (53%) have appointed Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) compared with a third (36%) of other respondents. Similarly, 53% of high performers establish a digital department or competency center, compared to 39% of everyone else.

In addition, for high performers the importance of transforming the IT department to meet the needs of the digitization is a recurring theme of this report. For high performers, not only are IT teams seen as having a leading role on developing and delivering the right competencies for organizations, IT transformation itself is actually their top competency for meeting objectives.

This is one of several differences between high performers and other respondents that draw four important lessons for all organizations to consider:

1. When it comes to digital competencies, there are no limits on improvement.

2. Extraordinary digital performance requires IT transformation and modernization of legacy systems to support digital strategies.

3. The sooner an organization develops its digital competencies, the sooner it can deliver exceptional digital experiences.

4. Varied and concurrent methods of developing digital competencies are necessary to get and stay ahead of peer organizations.

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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