Digital business transformation, like so many other esoteric concepts, is in the eye of the beholder. In some cases, it may mean little more than adding a mobile front end to an existing legacy application. At a more profound level, it means being able to provide customers with end-to-end visibility into the status of an order in real-time.
While there is general agreement that digital business transformation initiatives accelerated greatly in the wake of the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a few of these initiatives were launched hastily with one eye on nervous shareholders. Fast forward to today and there appears to be a significant disconnect between what senior leaders of organizations and the rest of the management team think is occurring when it comes to digital business transformation.
A survey of 1,000 business and IT decision-makers in the United States, Australia, United Kingdom and Ireland conducted by the market research firm Sapio on behalf of Cyara, a provider of a customer experience assurance platform, finds 90% of business owners and 75% of managing directors deem their digital business transformation initiatives to be “very successful.” Unfortunately, only 38% of department heads and 35% of managers share the same perception.
Overall, the survey finds business decision-makers are, on average, 5.34 months behind where they should be. Yet, IT decision-makers are more positive, estimating their organization is only 4.71 months behind schedule.
It’s not clear, however, how much insight IT leaders have into these projects. The same survey finds only 43% of business leaders consulted their IT teams every time during their decision-making process. Nevertheless, a full 99% of senior business respondents think the IT team has the budget and resources needed to keep up with digital business transformation initiatives, while about three-quarters of less-senior business respondents (78%) agree.
There is also not much consensus in terms of who actually owns these initiatives within the organization. Just over one-third (37%) of respondents say the CTO/CIO is the primary driver, while 28% point to an IT leader. Another 23% say the CEO is driving, and 10% specify another member of the C-suite leadership team.
The one thing that all survey respondents can agree on is the importance of digital transformation. A full 98% say digital transformation is important for competitive advantage, while 94% cite it as being important to enhancing customer experience. Unfortunately, in many organizations, it’s not clear who is responsible for customer experience. When asked who owns the customer experience, half of the respondents (50%) identified their customer service team. However, nearly half (48%) also cited the C-suite leadership while 41% cited marketing and/or sales.
It’s clear from the survey results that many senior leaders have opted for rose-colored glasses when assessing their digital business transformation initiatives, according to Cyara President James Isaacs. Digital CxOs, in many cases, need to get involved at a deeper level to understand all the nuances of processes that, in some cases, have more exceptions than rules. As processes tend to evolve over time, they often don’t work in practice the way senior managers often believe. Something that appears to be straightforward, for example, can have all kinds of dependencies that need to be accounted for within the scope of any process innovation initiative. No department is an island unto itself; every digital business process spans multiple departments within organizations, some of which don’t have a strong history of collaborating well.
Meaningful change is never easy, but there is simply no substitute for a Digital CxO who, instead of creating yet another PowerPoint presentation describing how something should work, can actually roll up their sleeves and help do the work.