Three traits of digital transformation leaders — budgets don’t matter

Playing it safe and short-term probably won't pay off in the long term.
6 February 2020

Are you burning money on your digital transformation strategy? Source: Shutterstock

Spend on artificial intelligence (AI) systems is poised to hit US$97 billion in 2023 according to the IDC, almost triple last year’s spend. 

And it isn’t just giant corporations with overflowing coffers behind the tech spending spree. A recent report found that more than a quarter of SMEs in the UK are increasing their technology budget by 10 percent for the first three months post-Brexit. 

Despite the willingness to shell millions out into digital initiatives, most CEOs don’t fully realize the outcomes promised by their tech investments. What then, is hampering success? And what can businesses learn from the industry players ‘doing DX right’?

In a bid to uncover what the optimal tech investment path looks like, Accenture spoke to 8,300 companies, uncovering several factors that distinguish the ‘Leaders’ and ‘Laggards’ in digital transformation. 

# 1 | Scaleability 

One of the primary indicators setting leaders and laggards apart is a longer-term vision for what tech onboarding should lead to. Future objectives for business-wide impact guide tech adoption among the leaders, with new solutions serving as building blocks that pave the way for scalable solutions across business units and processes. 

On the other hand, laggards usually opt for quick-fixes — highly centralized and focused solutions that lead to the creation of siloed systems. Even though the solutions may suit the current needs of the company, the approach gives little room for further innovation, letting the status quo ultimately prevail. 

# 2 | Coverage

Technologies such as AI and cloud present a range of opportunities to transform business processes — reducing operational costs and increasing productivity. 

If implemented strategically, the adoption of these technologies can impact almost all areas of an organization. However, laggards generally choose to limit integration of these solutions to a few processes — marketing and sales, in particular. 

Unwilling to cap the potential of new-age technologies, industry leaders are constantly testing boundaries and capabilities. Leaders are always on the lookout for how different processes can leverage the same technology. By constantly seeking the broader implications of a single investment, leaders enhance processes three times faster than laggards.

# 3 | Opportunist

In a fast-paced digital era, the early birds get the worm. The leaders are those that can spot the potential of new technology, and adopt it while it’s still ‘hot off the press’. Today, for example, up to 90 percent of leaders are confident in their SaaS expertise in comparison to 29 percent of laggards. 

Leaders are also less risk-averse, which drives them to experiment with the latest technologies. In contrast, laggards take a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude slowing down their adoption of new technologies. 

While laggards are choosing a safer route, leaders are aggressively embracing new technologies and planning ways to capitalize on them across the business.