Establishing Strategies for the Future of Digital Transformation Success
January 26, 2022

James Isaacs

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Customer experience (CX) is a critical differentiator that provides competitive advantage to companies. This became even more critical during the pandemic, when consumers were told to remain home and companies had to prioritize digital transformation projects to ensure they could provide the same level of CX through digital customer interactions as they could through real-world, in-person interactions. With that said, how successful were companies when it came to executing their digital transformation projects?

A recent survey posed this question to a total of 1,000 executives and IT leaders around the world to find out how they perceived the success and importance of digital transformation — i.e. replacing non-digital or manual processes with automation and digital technology to support or execute those processes. The findings may surprise you …

Digital transformation is considered important by both IT and business leaders

Nearly all respondents, regardless of their role within the company (executive leaders or IT team leaders), recognize the importance of digital transformation for competitive advantage (98%) and for enhancing CX (94%). In addition, 91% of respondents believe digital transformation will increase revenue.

IT teams are believed to be under-resourced to achieve successful digital transformation

Only 7% of respondents — both IT leaders and business executives — confirmed that their IT teams have the resources needed to meet digital transformation goals and deadlines. This shows that not only do IT workers executing digital transformation projects feel overwhelmed and under-supported, but business leaders recognize this as well. More resources and budgets are needed to be successful in digital transformation initiatives.

Digital transformation and customer experience initiatives have no obvious owners

The responsibility of leading digital transformation efforts could reasonably fall upon several different roles within an organization. As a result, there is no clear standard of ownership for digital transformation. In the survey, 37% of respondents identified the CTO/CIO; 28% pointed to an IT leader; 23% said the CEO; and 10% specified other C-suite leadership members.

When it comes to CX, and who within an organization is responsible for ensuring positive CX, survey respondents reported similar disparities to those associated with digital transformation ownership: 50% of respondents identified their Customer Service team as responsible for customer loyalty, 48% identified C-suite leadership, and 41% said marketing and sales teams are responsible for managing CX.

Digital transformation success is defined differently according to seniority in business and IT

Despite the reports that IT leaders and business executives value digital transformation equally, the standards used by IT leaders, managers and executives to evaluate digital transformation success differ drastically. Indeed, estimates of the success of digital transformation efforts drop off precipitously as seniority decreases.

For example, of the 98% of respondents who reported successful digital transformation, 90% of business owners vs. only 35% of managers viewed digital transformation initiatives as "very successful." Generally, senior executives view these initiatives as successful and those further down in the organization do not.

Digital transformation initiatives are believed to be behind schedule, by varying estimates

In line with the perceived success of digital transformation, which differed based on seniority within an organization, was the perceived extension of digital transformation timelines. However, this time, IT leaders were more optimistic than business leaders. For instance, IT leaders reported being 4.71 months behind deadlines for digital transformation implementation; while business leaders report delays of 5.34 months on average.

IT teams are not always involved in the digital transformation decision-making process

The disparity between IT and business leaders in the perceived success of digital transformation could be the result of a lack of communication between the two. When asked if business leaders consulted their IT teams on the decision-making process, only 43% said "yes, every time" meaning that more than half of IT teams are left in the dark on at least some critical decisions. This suggests that IT leaders must be given more opportunities to provide input on digital transformation strategy if C-suite leaders and IT teams are to be aligned on the key performance indicators (KPIs) and standards of digital transformation success.

Planning digital transformation strategies for 2022

As we move into 2022, company leaders and IT teams must sync up on digital transformation strategies that enable automation to support existing staff and time-consuming manual operations. Ensure that IT leaders are consulted early in the planning of digital transformation projects to align goals, KPIs and investment decisions. In addition, throughout the digital transformation process, business leaders must receive regular updates from IT teams on the status of digital transformation initiatives. This will provide shared visibility of digital transformation success across department and business leaders, and help to adjust timelines and strategies to meet digital transformation requirements on time.

James Isaacs is President of Cyara
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