Three Important Statistics on the State of Digital Strategy in 2014

The results of Forrester’s State of Digital Business 2014 survey are in. Although 74% of business have a digital strategy, execution remains a major concern. CEOs within mid-large sized businesses are also failing to assess the digital threat/opportunity and create a compelling digital vision.

Here are my three takeaways:

1. 74% of Executives have a Digital Strategy

74% of Executives have a Digital Strategy

74% of Executives have a Digital Strategy

This number surprised me most in that it’s a lot higher than I’d expected. However as the report states there is a wide degree of variance in what these Digital Strategies look like – after all Digital is still nebulous in definition (see Defining Digital for more on this).

Ownership of the Digital Strategy is another key question for me. Is it owned by Marketing, IT or the CEO? This is a crucial difference in scope of the strategy and ability to execute.

This disconnection between IT and marketing is creating what Forrester refer to as a “digital strategy execution crisis”. Breaking down the connection is something I wrote about recently in Improving the Customer Experience by Breaking Down Silos.

2. Only 15% of Executives believe they can deliver the Digital Strategy

Only 15% of Executive believe their company is capable of delivering the digital strategy

Only 15% of Executive believe their company is capable of delivering the digital strategy

No surprises on this one. Resourcing, operations, speed of change and budgets have all hampered digital initiatives. Perhaps one of the great challenges is that business attempt to execute their digital strategy within a traditional business change framework. Digital requires more agility and collaboration than some organisations are willing to give it.

3. In mid-large sized firms, just 17-21% of CEOs have a clear Digital Vision

17-21% of CEOs in mid-large have a clear digital vision

17-21% of CEOs in mid-large have a clear digital vision

Scepticism and cynicism may be at play in the CEO’s mind when it comes to digital investment. There’s a lot of snake-oil being pushed by vendors and consultants alike at the moment and I admire CEOs who are judicious in not following the latest fads. However there is a body of evidence building now around organisations who have embraced digital and what they’ve achieved (Burberry under Angela Ahrendts’ reign being the poster child of digital transformation).

In this finding, Forrester are referring to a digital vision that permeates the entire organisation rather than simply bolting on digital components to the business. This “bolt-on” execution of digital is creating further distance between marketing and IT. I wholeheartedly agree with Nigel Fenwick (the report’s author) that this bolting-on of digital components will not be enough in 2015 and beyond. Integration is the key.

Certainly digital has seriously disrupted (in the word’s truest sense) industries and businesses. KickStarter has shaken up investing in the arts and new technology. Zopa has shaken the lending markets. Amazon has literally decimated high streets. EdX and Coursera are beginning to shake up education.

In my view CEOs need to recognise the digital threat, measure the digital opportunity and create a winning digital vision (or strategy or plan) that is fit for purpose.

Further reading:

Source: Forrester: State of Digital 2014

David Sealey is a trusted adviser to senior executives on getting the most from their investment in digital and data. David created Storm81 as a place to share his passion for business, digital technologies, multichannel marketing and everything else around these topics.

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