There's a salutary lesson from this research released by MIT Sloan and Cap Gemini late last year that I've referred back to a few times in work with clients. The lengthy (two years) study of around 400 companies was designed to assess the impact of digital technologes on large, traditional companies, and how they are responding to those challenges. The study found that whilst most companies were active with digital initiatives, only a few had positioned themselves to capture real business benefit. They identified four broad organisational classifications:
- Beginners:- do very little with advanced digital capabilities, low awareness of opportunities
- Conservatives:- favour prudence over innovation, have a unified vision but are skeptical of the value of digital trends
- Fashionistas:- follow digital trends and implement shiny new digital apps, but don't have a unified vision for the digital transformation of their business
- Digirati:- those that truly understand how to drive value through the digital transformation of their business. In other words combining transformative vision and governance with investment, innovation, and continuous improvement in people, process and technology.
These more digitally mature companies (or 'digirati') were able to combine a focus on change through new technology, with a concurrent focus on change management, people, process, and culture. The study found that this latter group of companies were, on average, 26% more profitable, had a 12% higher market capitalization, and derived 9% more revenue from existing assets.
This was an advantage that persisted across different industries. But what was also notable was how companies that pursued shiny new technologies without the underlying strategies, processes, team structures and cultures to exploit it (the 'fashionistas') effectively damaged their business performance and were 11% less profitable than the average. The lesson? Digital drives real advantage but the magpie syndrome really isn't good for business.