Digital competencies have become vital to achieving business goals, according to new research by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In Benchmarking competencies for digital performance,commissioned by Riverbed, eight in ten respondents see digital competencies as being either very or extremely important in achieving revenue growth, service quality, mission delivery, profit growth/cost reduction, and customer satisfaction.
The study is based on a survey of more than 500 senior business and government leaders across the world, including the UK, focused on assessing nine behaviours, skills and abilities that help organisations improve their digital performance and, ultimately, achieve their objectives. Accompanying the study is a digital competency assessment tool, which enables users to benchmark their organisation’s competencies and performance against all survey respondents. The tool can be accessed here.
The survey uncovers a shared awareness among businesses that digital transformation is necessary to achieve their goals and remain competitive. Yet, more than half of organisations say they are struggling to achieve these important goals because they lack digital competencies. In particular, 65% of respondents say that their digital-competency gaps have negatively affected user experience, which explains why almost half of respondents say they need to improve digital experience management.
The central importance that companies place on improved digital competency comes despite the fact that some firms are yet to achieve meaningful results. About a third of organisations surveyed report only neutral or no measurable benefits from their digital strategies. The issues appear especially problematic in the public sector, with 60% of private-sector respondents describing their IT modernisation/transformation as advanced, compared with only 45% in the public sector.
In terms of overcoming this capability gap, the IT function plays a pivotal role. Organisations are aware that IT must be agile, as 78% of high performers globally cite IT infrastructure modernisation and transformation as their top digital competency for achieving their goals. In addition, enabling greater communication and collaboration between IT and the rest of the organisation (where digital competencies may be scarce) can significantly enhance digital performance and user experience.
Robert Powell, Editorial Director of EIU Thought Leadership (Americas), says: “The study shows a clear consensus among respondents that improving digital competency is vital for boosting organisational performance, even if some are not yet witnessing the results. Nevertheless, among the highest performing, the lessons are clear—do not hesitate, encourage internal collaboration, and, even if you feel ahead of your competition, never stop looking over your shoulder.”
Paul Higley, Vice President, Northern Europe, at Riverbed Technology comments, “The survey results support what we’re hearing from businesses and government leaders across the UK region. It’s time to start addressing the digital-skills gaps in order to fully deliver on digital transformation and build a workforce that will drive creativity, innovation and growth. The findings also highlight that forward-thinking organisations must prioritise investments in tools to measure, monitor, and improve the end-user experience if they are to stay ahead of their competition. Further to this, developing digital skills programs and modernising IT infrastructure are key areas of development to maximise digital performance.”