When it comes to anticipated digital revenue streams, leaders are also taking a more pragmatic view of what’s possible. In 2020, 36% expected digital to account for 75% or more of their revenue within three years. Now, just 13% of organizations say the same—one percentage point higher than before the pandemic, which suggests expectations are becoming more realistic. It's also worth noting that more modest levels of anticipated digital revenue are up very slightly from pre-pandemic levels.
And fewer businesses are adopting a “fail fast” mentality (53% in 2021 compared with 77% in 2020), which suggests that the culture of experimentation that gathered pace during the pandemic has lost some momentum. Clearly, many companies were forced to experiment in the first year of the pandemic as a matter of survival.
Read on for some of our other key findings that business leaders (C-level executives or their direct reports) shared, and other, more specific insights from the offices of the CFO, CIO, and CHRO.
Biggest Barriers to Transformation
Many companies have prioritized customer-facing digital efforts at the expense of their internal operations. In fact, only 18% say the majority of their internal operations are digitized. This rises to 38% in retail and 33% in the tech industry. The majority of organizations are finding that changing to meet business needs is very difficult when finance cannot get a timely, clear view on the company’s finances, or IT is struggling to free data from silos so that business leaders can make more informed decisions.
Interestingly, even though only a small minority (14%) of respondents expect accelerated digital transformation to continue at the current pace, retail (34%) and tech (24%) are again more bullish than other industries.
The biggest barriers to transformation across all respondents are:
- Workforce skills (38%).
- Organizational culture (35%).
- Cybersecurity, compliance, and privacy (33%).
- Access to quality, usable data (31%).
- Tech systems/infrastructure (30%).
The Growing Acceleration Gap
The majority (57%) of organizations say their digital strategy is always or often outpaced by the demands of the business. Our Chief Strategy Officer Pete Schlampp has called this disconnect between business needs and capabilities the acceleration gap. This gap is most likely to exist in professional services (74%), hospitality (71%), and healthcare (73%).
On the other hand, 41% of companies are able to keep pace or exceed the demands of the business, particularly those in retail (61%), tech (59%), media (55%), and financial services (52%).
The most important operational capabilities in enabling the team to continually meet the needs of the business are:
- Fast cycles between planning, execution, and analysis to improve outcomes (36%).
- Ability to connect operational, people, and financial data to business outcomes (36%).
- Ability to quickly reorganize the workforce around new initiatives (30%).
And it seems that as ever, the hardest changes to make are the fundamental ones to the culture and structure of a company. The majority (54%) of organizations say that “technological investments ultimately take priority over cultural and structural transformation,” and 43% of leaders agree that “our ability to evaluate performance in real time is hindered by operational silos.”
Finance: Need for Speed
Finance leaders want clear information that they can act on quickly, which continues to be a struggle. For instance, 64% of finance leaders admit it takes weeks or more to get results at the end of a reporting period, and only 31% are confident in their teams’ ability to model multiple scenarios.