Elizabeth Magill at Cyara looks at how the world changed quickly for many businesses in 2020. In company after company, it felt like a decade of organizational change happened in just a few months. Those titanic shifts were heaviest in one particular area: digital transformation (DX).
What seemed like a luxury before — the idea that every aspect of a business’s processes and operations could be built for a digital ecosystem — now looks like an absolute necessity. For some businesses like restaurants or banks, where digital customer experiences previously happened in fits and starts, this type of interaction is now the norm.
Few business leaders deny how urgent this transformation is to their business. Yet, when we asked them how it’s going, a clear divide emerged between what they know is necessary and what’s really happening in their organizations.
Cyara polled 1,000 business and IT decision-makers within companies from the UK, Australia, and the US with revenue of at least $3 million and an overall workforce of at least 1,000. We noticed a few key points that shed light on this DX divide.
Leaders Know They Must Go Digital
Our survey confirmed one thing emphatically: Almost no one is questioning whether digital transformation should be a priority. In fact, most key decision-makers think it’s necessary for survival. Ninety-eight percent of respondents saw it as a key means to maintain a competitive advantage.
The pandemic didn’t create this need, but it put the pedal to the floor and gave it a new sense of urgency. The pace of change has been breathtaking.
Consider another survey, this one by consulting firm McKinsey and Company, that showed companies across the globe accelerating the digitization of their offerings by seven years — just from December 2019 to July 2020.
The share of products and services that were digital jumped from 35% to 55% in that short time. Customer interactions went from 36% digital to 58% digital.
These trends only look like they will continue. Forrester, a major research firm, forecasted that 50% of organizations would prioritize shifting to the cloud in 2021. With half or more businesses emphasizing digital in so many areas, it’s clear what organizations have to do to stay competitive.
Digitally Transformed Companies Have the CX Edge
These rapid changes are also quickly reshaping customer expectations. What may have been a bonus before is now critical. Companies must meet their audience and customer base where they are — the digital realm.
Here again, our survey confirmed that companies know this. Ninety-four percent of our respondents noted that digital transformation can enhance the customer experience. They know that a truly digitized organization has access to vast amounts of customer data and the tools to put it to use.
This data allows for far more tailored customer experiences. It’s no wonder there’s such universal agreement about the importance of digital transformation.
The Divide Runs Deep
Despite these hearty acknowledgments of the need for a digital way forward, there’s a clear divide between aspirations and reality. Although many organizations have initiatives in place, there is mixed sentiment about the success of those endeavors.
The divide, it appears, isn’t just between where companies want to be and where they are. It runs deeper than that — between upper management and those at lower levels and across organizational departments.
For instance, estimates on the success of DX implementations drop off precipitously as seniority decreases. While 90% of business owners and 75% of managing directors think DX initiatives are going well, only 38% of department heads and 35% of managers describe their DX initiatives as “very successful.”
When asked who was responsible for these initiatives, responses were mixed, pointing to CTOs, CIOs, IT leaders, CEOs or other C-suite executives.
The same trend emerged regarding customer experience: Half of the respondents felt their customer service team was responsible for customer loyalty, while 48% identified C-suite leadership and 41% said it lies with marketing and sales.
It’s no surprise then, that organizational decision-makers feel their organizations are about five months behind schedule in digital transformation. And, as we saw in 2020, a lot can happen in five months.
Take Off the Rose-Colored Glasses
Because there are such disparate internal views about the digital state of organizations, the need for alignment has never been greater. Companies that want to keep pace with these changes must clearly understand where their organization lags in digital transformation so they can get everyone on the same page.