By Bjorn Engelhardt, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan, Riverbed
As every organisation in every industry is becoming a digital organisation, what now sets one organisation apart from another are its digital competencies – the behaviours, skills and abilities that help improve digital performance and, ultimately, drive business outcomes.
While discussion in India around the digital skills gap has focused largely on IT staff and engineers, new research by The Economist Intelligence Unit highlights that the onus for an organization’s digital success rests on the shoulders of the broader organization. Unfortunately, they too are struggling.
The report, Benchmarking competencies for digital performance,commissioned by Riverbed,surveyed more than 500 executives at global businesses or government organizations. Over 41% of APAC organisations surveyed report only neutral or no measurable benefits from their digital strategies.More than 60% of Asia Pacific respondents say they’re unsatisfied with their progress on developing digital competencies. And an even higher percentage (67%) say these gaps have negatively impacted user experience.
Not surprisingly, the majority of respondents (80%) embrace a sense of urgency in honing digital competencies in order to address the gap and achieve strategic goals such as revenue growth, service quality, mission delivery, profit growth/cost reduction, and customer satisfaction. And interestingly, this sense of urgency was more pronounced amongst respondents in the retail, media and technology industries.
Follow the Leader(s)
Taking a lesson from the playbook of high performing digital companies could help bridge the digital compentency gap. For example, while digital talent recruitment and retention remains a focus, high performers in APAC were actually more than twice as likely to say they are significantly ahead of rivals in three competencies: IT infrastructure modernization, automation of business processes and development approaches such as Agile.
They also tend to use a wider approach to developing digital competencies, including establishing a cross-functional digital competency centre of excellence and/or appointing a Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Indian brands like Bajaj Electricals, ICICI Bank and YES Bank and are amongst the 20% of forward-thinking organizations in the country embracing the role of the CDO.
At the same time, they believe a continual focus is also vital, with a majority of them fully committed to improving all digital competencies.
Will the IT function continue to play a pivotal role? Absolutely. However, nearly two-thirds of respondents cited poor communications between IT and other departments (where digital competencies may be scarce) as a stumbling block to achieving digital success, underscoring the need for greater collaboration across the board.
For organisations of all sizes and industries – whether a bank, a railway ticket booking app, or a food delivery company – ultimately, delivering amazing experiences to users will continue to dictate the course of transformation and innovation. Digital competencies provide a roadmap for success.
It is critical for organisations to weigh the economic opportunities that come with re-focussing efforts on building digital competencies. This includes preparing the IT department for a leadership role in the organisation, and not just for building and maintaining IT infrastructure. If companies don’t build these competencies today, they will inadvertently forego the enormous long-term benefits that this transformation can deliver.
If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]