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, among other things, revenue growth,
service quality, mission delivery, profit growth/cost reduction, user
experience and customer satisfaction.
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The study is based on a survey of more than 500 senior business and
government leaders across the world, 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 at https://digitalcompetency.economist.com/.
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 significantly
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
In terms of overcoming this capability gap, the IT function plays a
pivotal role. High performers are aware that IT must be agile, as 78%
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 improve digital performance and user experience.
High performers believe a continual focus is also vital, with fully 57%
of them committed to improving all digital competencies, compared with
46% of others. Unlike other respondents, high performers also use a
wider approach to developing digital competencies, including
establishing a cross-functional digital competency centre of excellence
and/or appointing a Chief Digital Officer (CDO).
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.”
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 www.eiuperspectives.economist.com.
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