Sheetal Patel
By Sheetal Patel on 16 May, 2023

‘Digital transformation is dead. Long live business agility.’

This is the title of our new report which urges businesses to focus on creating a culture and technology environment which enables them to respond quickly to opportunities and threats.

The new research, published by London Research in partnership with Paragon DCX, finds that less than half of  large companies (44%) have fully established the culture and business mindset required to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by digital technology.

The report also shows that sponsorship from the CEO and company leadership team is critical for ongoing investment in digital initiatives, and this typically depends on demonstrating commercial value in the form of tangible financial benefits.

Lack of support will stifle investment in technology and skills, reduce the organisation’s appetite for risk, and compromise its willingness to drive the cultural change required to support constant digital evolution.

According to the research, only a minority of respondents strongly agree that the benefits of digital transformation are ‘very much measurable’. “The key is to show value at every stage, in terms of the senior leadership’s chosen metrics,” say the report’s authors.

The report recommends that companies should adopt an iterative ‘land-and-expand’ approach to transformation, starting with small-scale proofs of concept and low-risk experimentation. Successful projects can then be scaled without over-committing, and with the ability to change course quickly if necessary.

Reckitt’s Global Transformation Director Jason Carter, one of the business leaders interviewed for the report, said that boardroom buy-in for investment in digital initiatives had been integral to the company’s progress.  “At Reckitt, we have sponsorship from the CEO downwards, and it’s been critical. And they’re bought into it because we’ve got the mechanisms to prove the value to the P&L, and they can see the impact,” he explained.

Another business leader interviewed for the report, Emma Humbey, Head of Marketing for UK and Ireland at Philips, said that a focus on business efficiencies was key to getting the required level of investment.

 “There are business pressures across the board, with companies needing to balance customer experience with the economic challenges we’re facing. So, if you create projects that focus on that, it’s definitely going to be easier to get buy-in and support, as long as it meets the expectations set at the start. In a more localised marketing-led organisation you could probably do something more focused on the customer experience. But in large commercial organisations like Philips, it’s also important to balance our customer needs with business efficiencies."

Evolution, not transformation

Some of those interviewed for the research emphasised how digital transformation was an ongoing journey, rather than something that could be completed.

According to Lazar Dzamic, Brand Strategist and Lecturer in Digital Marketing: “Digital transformation is not a project, it’s a journey. It’s the way companies live today, meaning constant adaptation, constant evolution. It’s a constant process of surviving in the modern world.”

One of the conclusions of the report is that digital transformation is still a useful term for many business leaders and organisations, as it captures the on-going need for digitisation and change that companies still need to embrace, whatever their level of digital maturity.

However, the focus always needs to be on improved employee and customer experiences, as digital technology and associated transformation or evolution should always be seen as a means to an end.

Peter Paterson, Managing Director at Paragon DCX, says in his research foreword: “We have seen from our own clients across a range of industries how digitising business operations has improved everything from productivity to user experience, and resulted in faster revenue growth compared to competitors who haven’t grasped the nettle.”

Download the full report – Digital transformation is dead. Long live business agility. - why organisations need to embrace constant change to avoid failure.


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