Only one out of five organizations globally have implemented a digital strategy that encompasses the whole company, according to a new report released by SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The report, titled “Digitizing IT,” found that there remains a significant gap in organizations preparing for and implementing a digital strategy that fully integrates strategic, financial and operational elements. Organizations in the Asia-Pacific region lead the way in enterprise-wide digital strategies, with nearly one in three companies reporting significant progress on this front.
The survey, based on responses from 812 senior executives at multinational corporations, examined the challenges and opportunities facing IT departments within the context of digital. Nearly half of those surveyed (49 percent) were IT executives, and the remainder came from a range of departments including sales, marketing, HR and finance.
“Digital transformation is the new strategic imperative — no longer just a handy source of competitive differentiation but a must-do for every company, in every industry and across every geography,” said Thomas Saueressig, chief information officer at SAP. “Forward-looking CIOs understand that they need to change their roles from ‘keeping the lights on’ service providers to ‘leaders of innovation.’ This is easier said than done, but there is a positive correlation between the early involvement of IT and meaningful success rates of digital transformation initiatives — so the first step is the most important one.”
Additional findings, broken out by regional differences, include:
Priority and scope of digital transformation initiatives
- Organization-wide digital transformation strategies are most likely to take place in Asia-Pacific (APJ), where they are implemented by 35 percent of organizations, versus 21 percent globally.
- Digital initiatives are most likely to be rated as the “highest strategic priority” in APJ (47 percent).
- Perhaps as a result, APJ companies were second most- ikely to rate their digital initiatives over the past three years as “highly effective”: APJ at 40 percent and China at 55 percent, with a global average at 25 percent.
The role of IT in digital transformation
- CIOs are most likely to have primary ownership of their company’s digital initiatives in the United States (51 percent) and China (49 percent), compared to a global average of 37 percent.
- A significant proportion in Europe (20 percent) and Germany (13 percent) said that primary ownership lies with the chief digital officer or equivalent.
How IT can better support digital initiatives
- When asked what would most help IT departments make the ideal contribution to their company’s digital initiatives, the top answer in most regions was “improving collaboration between IT and other departments.” In Europe this response was given by 52 percent, in China by 47 percent, in APJ by 42 percent and in Latin and Central America by 37 percent. It was the second highest answer in Germany (48 percent) and the United States (34 percent). “Devising and implementing a digital transformation strategy” was the top answer in both the United States (53 percent) and Germany (51 percent).