What do digitally advanced organisations have in common?

From tearing down silos to empowering CISOs and helping to solve the talent crisis – these are the seven traits of the world’s digital leaders, say KPMG

There’s no doubt that the pandemic accelerated the digital evolution, fuelling record-high confidence levels around digital transformation capabilities.

When it comes to confidence in capitalising on technologies, 66% of respondents believe their organisations are either extremely or very effective at using tech to advance their business strategies, according to KPMG’s Global Tech Report 2022.

And to date, most tech leaders report positive returns from their transformative efforts to improve their competitive edge through technology – with almost all businesses enhancing their profitability or other metrics of performance over the past two years through digital transformation.

This surge in digital competency is helping to reshape the definition of digital leaders, with organisations that are digitally mature sharing certain characteristics.

KPMG has outlined the seven traits that the most digitally advanced organisations possess, from cross-department collaboration to early-stage CSCO involvement.

1 Tear down silos and collaborate

To avoid creating unnecessary inefficiencies with tech-innovation efforts, digital leaders are tearing down silos so projects can draw continually on employee feedback from key stakeholder groups. Here, the voice of the employee guides innovation efforts away from flawed implementations.

The spirit of collaboration lives on through the daily operations of digitally advanced businesses – routine cross-departmental collaboration and education allow business and IT employees to resolve misunderstandings and gain clarity on each other’s perspectives.

2 Help to solve the talent crisis

Progressive businesses are calibrating their approaches to hiring and training specialist talent from the ecosystem. Take NBCUniversal, which, rather than recruit candidates exclusively from its industry of focus, is opening its industry to gifted people from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and even geographies, to build diversity and “improve our ability to drive change more rapidly,” says Hayley Cochrane, VP of Digital and Advanced Ad Sales, Global.

Mature businesses are also ensuring their staff feel supported in their professional growth. HFS Research’s Phil Fersht advises companies to “consider breaking out of rigid management structures and build frameworks based on a matrix model,” and “employ more of an open structure to mentoring programs, so employees can learn from multiple people.”

3 Build airtight alignment between cloud stakeholders

Stakeholder misalignment is a major factor holding back cloud migration for most businesses, with CISOs saying this is a bigger cloud challenge than security and compliance requirements. Misalignment tends to occur between the IT team’s vision of how cloud capabilities should be enabled and the cloud priorities of other business departments leading to cloud approaches that are siloed and disconnected from the work of other departments.

Some digitally mature businesses are making progress in this area by appointing a dedicated head of cloud who considers the requirements of each stakeholder group and creates a strategy to optimise the business’s cloud journey. According to Barry Brunsman, Principal Advisory, CIO Advisory at KPMG US, a “unified strategic vision of the cloud’s organisational returns for stakeholders drives a sophisticated implementation and enablement of cloud-based systems.”

4 Ensure cyber specialists have early involvement in tech selection

Digitally mature businesses operate with tech-innovation workflows that include cyber specialists early on. To show digital maturity, organisations should ensure CISOs and their cyber teams engage in early-stage discussions about how and where the technology is going to be used, and what this means for customer experiences.

Digitally mature companies empower CISOs to conduct regular education in risk management via training sessions and simulations. They also direct their emerging-technology investments towards capabilities that have the potential to deliver the outcomes that are of most value to the customers.

5 Let the customer’s voice guide emerging technology strategy

To retain customers and market share, companies must continuously improve their digital capabilities and think differently about how to use technologies to meet, and exceed, expectations. This means constantly evaluating whether technology selection and workflow design is aligned with customer needs and expectations.

Cross-functional workshops can provide real-life insights that stress-test the value of certain technologies. Prudential has had success with workshops that bring together disparate stakeholders, including customers, to test prototypes and assess seamless interaction points in customer experiences.

6 Prepared to switch platform providers to enhance customer experiences

The aspiration by many businesses to consolidate tech stacks is always complicated by how capabilities advance and solution-provider landscapes shift. As a result, even though it is a complex skill to master, the ability to move between platforms is becoming increasingly important for digitally mature businesses.

7 Aren’t afraid to experiment wisely

Digitally mature companies ensure that their success does not create an overly protective or perfectionist that stifles innovation.

“If you attempt to achieve a 100% level of certainty over everything, you are hoping for a false level of precision,” says Standard Chartered Bank’s Rowena Everson. “All this will do is paralyse experimentation in the business, which will ultimately paralyse growth. The only answer is to ensure that transformation and investment strategies can adapt.”


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