According to Didier Bonnet, one of the main authors of the highly acclaimed 'Leading Digital' book published two years ago, most large companies are struggling to successfully implement digital transformation with the majority of boards having a long way to go before they are mastering the digital challenge .

In a recent interview, Bonnet made the following observations covering the two year period since publication of the book:

  • CEOs and their teams are now much more aware of the impact of digital technology on their businesses. Many are investing heavily in digital capabilities, hiring new digital talent, such as Chief Digital Officers, to lead digital transformation.
  • While CDOs can be a useful catalyst and accelerator of digital transformation, they are not a sure recipe for success. It is critical to have a strong transformational leader at the top of the organisation to drive digital change.
  • Board evolution for the digital era has been very slow. Almost 80 per cent of company directors state that they are not satisfied that their boards have the sufficient digital proficiency to anticipate the competitive technological threats and opportunities for their firms. Less than 20 per cent of Fortune 500 companies feel fully equipped to deal with the technological challenge. Boards require 'transformational digital talent' - people who fully understand the power of new technologies but also the complexity of using these technologies for business impact in large complex organisations.
  • The challenge for many large firms is not so much where to put the investment (The What) but more on how they adapt their organisations to gain competitive positions (The How). 
  • Asked what had surprised him most over the last two years since publication of the book, Bonnet answered the lack of urgency around investing in digital skills. A 2013 study on ‘The Digital Talent Gap’ showed that over 90 per cent of companies lacked major digital skills to successfully execute their digital strategies. It is doubtful if this figure has moved by more than a few percentage points in the last two years. Everyone is aware of the problem, but very few are tackling it in any meaningful way.

“I firmly believe that, with the increasing digital divide happening within firms, the threat of technological unemployment becoming more and more visible and the competitive pressures to accelerate digital transformation, this is an under-resourced area and it’s moving too slowly.”

The full interview can be accessed here.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

Jim H

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