CIOs Struggle with Gap in Digital Transformation Expectations and Delivery Capabilities | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Posted On July 23, 2018

As part of our Pinnacle Model™ methodology and benchmarking, Everest Group recently conducted a study of over 200 companies on their digital transformation readiness. The study found companies’ boards of directors typically believe digital transformation is about technology, and they typically under-estimate the cost and expect results in months, not years. Those expectations are a huge gap away from the reality challenging CIOs and senior leaders leading the digital transformation. CIOs participating in our study revealed their companies were unprepared, under-funded and under-supported as to the tools, investment and commitment required to succeed. In this blog, I’ll share how to effectively communicate to your company the requirements for digital transformation to succeed.

Why Is There a Huge Gap?

The gap between expectations and delivery capabilities is because digital transformation is fundamentally different from companies’ past experiences with transformation. The technologies are disruptive and necessitate changing the organization, talent model, mind-sets, policies, processes and procedures – basically, the entire business model. Those changes are not easy. They don’t come all at once. They’re not completely known at the outset. And they unfold over a multi-year journey.

Peter Drucker advised, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” But the depth and breadth of necessary changes and the required commitment and investment for digital transformation are complicated to explain. They are hard to understand.

The digital journey requires far more resources, support, commitment and investment than anyone wants to believe. Digital technologies also take far longer to implement than people expect. For instance, in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology, a company can put a robot up quickly to create process improvement; but getting significant value involves more than that. Sure, a company can automate a function. But until the executives rethink the process that the robots will perform, they cannot create a meaningful improvement or breakthrough performance.

So, it’s no wonder that the boards don’t understand the extent of what is required to successfully complete a digital transformation journey. They also don’t understand that they need to fund IT transformation at the outset so that IT can successfully support the digital transformation.

As a result, most digital transformation initiatives fail (70%, according to a 2013 McKinsey & Company study. Many participants in Everest Group’s Pinnacle study revealed that, even when they understood the journey, they could not communicate it to their board, could not get funding, could not build support for it, and thus could not drive the change necessary to get it done.

How to Communicate Digital Change Requirements to Your Company

From our Pinnacle Model study, we developed an assessment vehicle (a 30-minute questionnaire) from which your company can compare its digital readiness against the broader population and against the market leaders (the Pinnacle Enterprises™). Together with a four-hour workshop, you’ll have the tools that will allow you to identify gaps, create learnings, understand what things you could do differently to improve your company’s readiness and performance and well as build road maps that allow you to systematically mature your digital readiness.

Learn more about our digital transformation analyses

Executives that have gone through the assessment and workshop tell us it created a great tool for communicating with their board of directors and the rest of the business about the support, resources and investment necessary to allow for successful digital transformation.

It is also a supporting budgeting tool that allows you to demonstrate the value against the cost, build support for the investment required to mature digital readiness and communicate the value that the IT organization will be able to achieve or support by increasing its digital readiness.

There’s a startling fact in the 2013 McKinsey study I cited earlier: Of the “successful” 30% that didn’t report their initiatives as failures, “success” was described as either breaking even or finishing the program but not delivering the anticipated business results. Of course, no company wants to undergo the challenge, effort, and expense of transformation only to break even or remain in the same relative competitive position.

Harvard Professor John P. Kotter’s study of 100 companies that underwent transformation initiatives found more than 50% failed in the first phase (getting organizational commitment and cooperation for the initiative). The Pinnacle assessment, workshop and communication tools are very helpful in addressing these issues.

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