Businesses adopt a digital strategy but most are skeptical of success

New report from Forrester on digital disruption finds most organisations have some form of digital strategy in place, but two-thirds think their approach is inadequate

More than 90 per cent of global business executives believe digital will disrupt their business over the next 12 months, yet two-thirds mistrust their own digital strategy, new research highlights.

According to Forrester Research’s latest report into digital strategy, The Future of Business is Digital, three quarters of businesses surveyed are taking action with a digital strategy in the next year to meet the digital disruption challenge facing their organisation. More than half also believe digital technologies are a major driver of business strategy.

However, only one third of respondents think they have the right digital approach, and just 21 per cent claim the right staff are setting strategy. In fact, only 15 per cent said they had the necessary people and skills in place to execute on their digital strategy, and just 14 per cent are confident about their processes.

Among the top barriers cited in the report are organisational inertia and functional limitations. For example, two-third of employees believed functional departments are too fixed in their ways, while 68 per cent of business unit leaders said the functional teams in their companies are barriers to effective coordination.

Only 21 per cent agreed their CEO has set a clear vision for digital in the business, indicating top-level readiness is another major issue.

“The organisational structures, processes and ways of working that have proven so successful in the past are now your firm’s greatest enemies in its race to embrace digital technology,” commented report authors, Nigel Fenwick and Martin Gill.

When it comes to functional areas most impacted by digital, marketing tied with ecommerce and IT, followed by sales.

Forrester highlighted two key ways of addressing the digital challenge today: Digital customer experience; and digital operational excellence. On the customer experience front, organisations should be looking to digitise the end-to-end customer experience, along with products and services as part of the value ecosystem, the research authors stated.

“Digital businesses understand that if they are to win in the age of the customer, customer experience is their only differentiator,” the report stated. “Success means investing in customer experience as a discipline within your organisation… Rather than treating digital as a channel, focus on delivering digitally enhanced experiences that add value in the context of the customer’s needs.”

Operationally, organisations need to source enhanced operational capabilities within a dynamic ecosystem, drive rapid customer-centric innovation, digitise for agility over efficiency, Forrester said.

“The key characteristic of successful digital businesses is their ability to position themselves as ecosystem players,” continued Gill in a related blog post. “ They acknowledge that they can’t do everything themselves, so they turn to dynamic ecosystems of partners to extend their internal capabilities.

“And likewise, they understand that their customers see them as just one supplier in an ecosystem of firms they turn to. This drives a different approach to designing products and services in the digitally networked world.”

Related: Doing digital strategy the Amway
How digital can drive bricks and mortar transformation
C-suite gets behind digital customer engagement

The research firm also identified several classifications businesses could use to size up their current digital readiness, as well as provides a framework to achieve them. This list starts at ‘digital dinosaurs’ that need help beginning their transformation, then ‘digital connectors’ that understand digital customers but aren’t yet operating digitally. An example of the latter is British Airways, which RFID-enabled its baggage handling capabilities.

Forrester’s third level, ‘digital operators’, are creating digital efficiency and reaping revenue rewards but don’t focus on customer experience, such as PG&E and Telefonica. At the top of the tree are ‘digital masters’ who excel at digital thinking and have embraced both digital customer experience and operational excellence. Companies at this level include Burberry and USAA.

The Forrester report was based on a survey of 1254 global business executives at organisations with at least 250 employees.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

How to keep your B2B marketing job for the next 5 years

B2B marketers are in the hot seat. As the customers’ buying journey shifts online, B2B marketers must exert influence and build trust with their prospects in a new way.

Collective Intelligence: The power of smarter, quicker team thinking

When we think about the bottom line in business, the immediate jump is fiscal performance. But if you're serious about future-proofing your business, then you need to be ready to think outside the box of traditional success measures.

Janine Garner

Founder and CEO, LBDGroup and author

Can the data-led creative please stand up?

The data land grab is full steam ahead. Media agencies, brands and tech players are all scrambling over one another to develop data and insights capabilities and to own the space.

Chris - good list for a staff marketer. But a CMO must become conversant and familiar with strategic corporate finance. This is now a c...

Ed Marsh

How to keep your B2B marketing job for the next 5 years - Marketing leadership - CMO Australia

Read more

Hmm ... another pondering example of VR technology's use for place-teleportation.http://www.virtualrealitytimes...

VirtualReality Times

Virtual reality provides platform to showcase Brisbane winter experiences

Read more

Hi Nadia, I think it will be interesting to see how this space evolves since, as you mentioned, more and more brands will be getting in o...

Lauren Jung

How to engage in influencer marketing: The controversy and the opportunity

Read more

Thanks for the feedback Lauren. The big question I have is whether consumers will continue to inherently trust in the blogger's commentar...

Nadia Cameron

How to engage in influencer marketing: The controversy and the opportunity

Read more

It's interesting when I see posts like this, where big companies are strategizing to position themselves for an effective content marketi...

Dan Ewah

Engineers Australia partners with Mahlab on content marketing strategy

Read more

Sign in