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Discord between execs and IT holding back digital transformation efforts

A lack of alignment and collaboration between the C-suite, IT teams and the wider businesses is holding back digital transformation within organisations, according to a new report that reveals a lack of strategic ownership is stalling digital transformation plans.

According to NTT's 2019 Digital Means Business Report, 11% of organisations are highly satisfied with those in charge of spearheading digital transformation, despite the fact that almost three-quarters of them are already underway on their journey.

"While many organisations worldwide are achieving some success with digital transformation, but there is still a strong belief that this evolution requires radical, far-reaching changes to achieve success," says Wayne Speechly, VP of Advanced Competencies, NTT.

"This, when combined with a lack of strong transformational leadership and focus on the need to change people, is holding many companies back," he says. 

According to the report, some 71% of organisations in the early stages of transformation still believe a complete restructuring of the business and operating model is the primary definition of digital transformation.

Furthermore, only 49% of respondents believe their leadership team has the right skills to manage the execution of digital transformation, the report revealed.

The report also found a lack of executive sponsorship or ownership ranked as the top barrier to success.

According to Speechly, this shortfall highlights the need for business leaders to change themselves, build a different environment, and set new behavioural priorities and performance indicators in order to drive a more proactive, tactical, and incremental approach to transformation.

The research also revealed there is a direct correlation between organisations' ability to realise relevant, outcomes-driven value from digital transformation on a regular basis, and their digital maturity. Yet, there still exists a discernible lack of alignment between IT teams and the wider business.

The report found that only 29% of organisations are embracing digital transformation as a collaborative effort between business and IT. And, while 42% of respondents say business and IT are delivering in a more integrated manner, supported in part with the introduction of a chief digital officer function, only 12% are highly satisfied that planning is flowing effectively through to execution.

Interestingly, the report revealed almost half (49%) of digital transformation projects are still IT-led.

"Organisations are still grappling with how to shape their business to capitalise on a connected future," says Speechly.

"Digital creates the opportunity for value to be constantly derived from transformation initiatives across the business. Organisations should focus less on perfecting a grand digital plan, and more on taking considered and iterative steps in their transformation journey to progress value and clarity of subsequent moves," he explains. 

"For various reasons, an organisation is its own worst enemy, so any change has to be supported by pragmatic, self-aware leadership who are themselves changing."
 
The research surveyed over 1,150 executives, from 15 countries across North America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia Pacific, and from 11 industry verticals. 

"The results provide invaluable insight into how these leaders perceive the business opportunities presented by digital transformation, the delivery challenges experienced in realising a digital transformation strategy, and the value being achieved," Speechly adds.