Digital Transformation

As Accelerators of Innovation, Digital Technologies drive efficiency, create new products, bring on new service lines

Digitally maturing companies innovate at far higher rates than their less mature counterparts. Eighty-one percent of respondents from these companies cite innovation as a strength of the organization, compared with only 10% from early-stage companies. Maturing organizations invest more in innovation and constantly drive toward digital improvement in ways that less mature companies do not. Notably, innovation happens throughout digitally maturing enterprises; it isn’t caged in labs or R&D departments. Digitally maturing companies are more likely to participate in digital ecosystems, and their employees are often organized in cross-functional teams.

Employees of digitally maturing organizations have more latitude to innovate in their jobs — regardless of what those jobs may beNearly five times as many survey respondents from maturing companies as from early-stage companies report that their organizations provide them sufficient resources to innovate. This year’s research also finds a strong relationship between a company’s rate of digital innovation and its staffers’ confidence that the organization will be stronger in the future, thanks to digital trends.

Digitally maturing companies are far more likely than their less mature counterparts to collaborate with external partners. While 80% say their organizations cultivate partnerships with other organizations to facilitate digital innovation, only one-third of early-stage companies do the same. The nature of collaboration also differs depending on maturity level. Digitally maturing organizations tend to form alliances that involve less formal, controlled relationships; they rely more on relational governance and less on detailed contracts. Formal partnerships can still serve a vital role in collaboration and often exist as part of larger business ecosystems.

Digital transmission
Digital transmission

Cross-functional teams are another important source of digital innovation. Not only are digitally maturing companies more likely to use cross-functional teams, those teams generally function differently in more mature organizations than in less mature organizations.They’re given greater autonomy, and their members are often evaluated as a unit. Participants on these teams are also more likely to say that their cross-functional work is supported by senior management. For more advanced companies, the organizing principle behind cross-functional teams is shifting from projects toward products.

Digitally maturing companies are more agile and innovative, but as a result they require greater governance. Organizations need policies that create sturdy guardrails around the increased autonomy their networking strength allows. Digitally maturing companies are more likely to have ethics policies in place to govern digital business. Policies alone, however, are not sufficient. Only 35% of respondents across maturity levels say their company is talking enough about the social and ethical implications of digital business.

When asked to predict whether their company will be stronger or weaker moving forward, respondents from digitally maturing and early-stage companies show striking differences.The former believe their organizations have the power to adapt to changes wrought by digital disruption and expand their capabilities, while the latter see disruption as a result of market forces they cannot control.