• April 1, 2016
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Digital Dexterity a Dream for Most

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Despite the growing need for companies to build an online presence, only 7 percent could be considered masters of their digital domains, according to research from Capgemini Consulting.

In its "Organizing for Digital: Why Digital Dexterity Matters" report, Capgemini found that an overwhelming majority of companies today lack the digital skills needed to react quickly to emerging technologies, challenges, and customer habits.

The study, conducted with the MIT Center for Digital Business, uncovered several characteristics that equate to digital dexterity. Companies, of course, need to have a significant online presence, but digital dexterity also includes the ability to rapidly adapt organizational design and become more intelligent through systematic data-driven decision making. Attributes that set the most digitally dexterous organizations apart from others include the following:

• a digital-first mind-set that prioritizes digital solutions;

• systematic experimentation to drive innovation across the organization;

• the ability to self-organize quickly around new digital opportunities;

• an empowered workforce through access to data; and

• employees who are engaged in collaborative problem-solving.

Companies that could be considered digital leaders were twice as likely to see growth, profitability, and customer satisfaction as their competitors, and were better equipped to seize opportunities and respond to disruptions more quickly. They also have an easier time finding experts when needed; establishing partnerships; responding to individual customers' needs and preferences; detecting emerging trends; and self-organizing.

But Didier Bonnet, senior vice president for digital transformation at Capgemini, says these characteristics evolve at different rates all the time, which further complicates the process of digital transformation.

That very few firms have reached the level of digital dexterity is not really surprising. In fact, most companies, 56 percent, fall within the "initiating" stage, where they are just starting the shift toward digital investments and are slowly building their digital competencies. An additional 21 percent are in the "engaging" stage, where they are well under way with their digital transition and using digital capabilities to personalize the customer experience, simplify routine tasks, and enable internal and external collaboration.

Companies in this "engaging" stage have possibly the hardest time making the jump to the next level, Bonnet says. Many, he notes, feel compelled to further change but find the process difficult, particularly because they already have some initiatives in place and have already created the work-arounds that mesh those digital and traditional activities. "True adoption requires a complete shift in mind-set and practices across an entire organization's workforce. As organizations cross over, new tensions emerge, raising many new questions," he says. "As circumstances repeatedly change, firms have to be quick to respond, which requires time and quick buy-in to move forward—a skill many companies still are developing."

Recognizing the challenges associated with enterprise change management, Bonnet emphasizes the need to explain the benefits and make digital transformation meaningful to key stakeholders by articulating how digital transformation will improve the way people do their jobs—making their work easier, better, faster, or more fulfilling.

Once they do change that mind-set, "employees will perpetually be on the lookout for new technologies to find ways to make their work more efficient and/or effective," Bonnet suggests.

"Then, the reward structures for sustaining digital transformation should not be just financial. Intangible incentives such as status, reputation, recognition, expertise, and privileges are great managerial levers to drive employee motivation, productivity, and ultimately reach your transformation goals," he adds. 

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