The challenge of getting the C-suite to understand IT’s role and requirements in order to drive business change is not a new one. Talk of Digital Transformation has been happening for years – really decades. In fact, the hope of many leaders that true digital transformation can occur has often been lost due to a variety of fits and starts.  The reality of limitations in available technologies, managing existing infrastructures, and the need to sustain ongoing business operations all have conspired to inhibit real transformation. But in 2018, when the rate of digital transformation within organisations really could determine the winners and losers – the disruptors from the disrupted – executives and IT teams must finally align to ensure their business remains competitive.

At Alfresco, we surveyed more than 300 digital transformation decision makers in the UK and US at organisations with more than 500 employees, and it’s clear that there is still a disconnect between IT and the Board.

Both business and IT executives agree when it comes to the importance of digital transformation to their organisation. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of each group state that the impact of competitors that are more effective with their digital transformation is a “top concern”.

To back up this sentiment, 87% believe their company’s business results would be impacted if a more technically innovative competitor appeared.

There is a clear business case, therefore, for digital transformation. Disrupt, or be disrupted.

Commitment is the bottleneck

Despite the apparent alignment between business executives and their technology team with the business case for digital transformation, IT sees the commitment of the business as the bottleneck in their digital transformation. Alfresco’s research found that seven in ten (70%) want business executives to move faster in their adoption of emerging technologies. This is nearly twice the number (38%) who believe that their technology team is overly cautious and could move faster.

According to the study, the top issue, as ever, is budget. Almost two-thirds (61%) of decision makers we surveyed believe that, due to a lack of budget and people resources to execute digital transformation, their organisation risks being disrupted by faster-moving competitors.

Of concern to business leaders will be that 48% believe a “lack of vision among our business leadership” could hamper their digital transformation efforts. 

Building the business case for digital transformation

We’re at an interesting crossroads in digital transformation, where 50% of the organisations Alfresco surveyed think their company will disrupt and 50% believe they will be disrupted. Executives are most likely to believe that their organisation will be a disruptor (56%) compared to team managers (49%) and individual contributors (39%), so optimism comes from the top.

Leadership is going to be absolutely key to drive successful digital transformation. We asked IT stakeholders to identify the factor that would most likely propel their organisation into a disruptor position. Top of their list was “vision of our technology leadership” (62%), followed by “ability of our technology teams to execute” (58%) – so IT is confident it can deliver successful digital transformation, but it just needs the budget and the team to do the job.

To achieve the budgetary commitment for digital transformation initiatives, IT leaders need to emphasise the business case for executing digital transformation, namely:

Performance benefits: Nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents expects to see improved employee productivity while 71% expect to reduce costs through improved efficiencies

Business competitiveness: 59% expect to drive better decision making through improved data capture, while more than half (52%) expect to increase revenues through new offerings

Customer benefits: Nearly two-thirds (62%) anticipate increased customer satisfaction and loyalty

Digital transformation is a strategic commitment, not a quick fix, and executive leadership will need to commit funding, and logistical and cultural support to enable the project; nearly four in five (78%) believe that human changes – including culture and organisation – are more difficult than technical changes.

We know from our research that a significant majority (71%) of organisations plan to hire and train in-house experts in 2018 to manage their infrastructure-as-a-service. This talent shift is another key consideration to achieve success. Whether managing in-house or outsourcing some elements to experts, the only way to be successful in digital transformation is to ensure that the IT team is working closely with other key stakeholders in the executive, especially the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and head of Human Resources (HR).

The executive will always have their eye on the bottom line, but the key thing is that IT works closely with its board to agree the objectives and roadmap for digital transformation, how to meet the cultural challenges and be clear on what, ultimately, success looks like. Most importantly, the commitment to disrupt, not be disrupted, must be met.

Are you ready to meet that challenge?