The Digital IQs—a measurement of an organisation’s abilities to harness and profit from technology—of most companies are getting lower over the last decade according to a PwC’s 2017 Global Digital IQ Survey: 10th anniversary edition. However, in most cases, this isn’t for lack of resources devoted to digital pursuits. In fact, there are certainly significant advances from most companies, but according to the PwC survey, just 52% of businesses would rate their Digital IQ as strong in 2017; which is down from 67% in the last survey in 2016. Every company in every industry needs to invest and create strategies to increase their Digital IQ despite the challenges because if they don’t the competition will soon surpass them.
Despite Improvements, Digital IQ Still Lags
How can it be that companies have invested in digital assets, training and strategies, but their Digital IQ is falling? The issue isn’t a lack of attention or regard to digital transformation, but rather the rapid pace of digital innovation that makes companies struggle to keep up the pace.
While organisations are focused on getting their arms around one aspect of technology, powerful next-generation technologies line up incessantly and require time, attention and resources. So, while most companies have now aligned their business and IT initiatives and have C-suite support of tech investments and programmes, the problems and opportunities that are available have become more complex and robust. Companies find themselves in a tango where they take one step forward and two steps back.
Raising Digital IQ Is Important for All Companies
Despite the challenges to raise your Digital IQ, it’s worth the investment for any company. It’s never been a better time to focus on making tangible progress. If you don’t, as Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE said, “anyone who denied ‘that digitisation is going to impact every corner of the economy’ would get left behind.” Raising your organisation’s Digital IQ will help you gain a competitive advantage.
It doesn’t matter your industry or sector, technological transformations are happening in all of them. Think about the last time you went to the hospital for a visit or a stay. They most likely entered vital information into an electronic health record. Southwest Airlines invested in an intensive data analytics initiative to assess all the variables that can impact airplane performance. There are examples in every industry from John Deere that analyse the data from their equipment in the field to specialised retailers like Warby Parker who allow customers to try on glasses at home.
Organisations who embrace policies and practices to improve their Digital IQ are also the top performers financially, according to the PwC survey.
How Can Companies Raise their Digital IQ?
Here are a few steps that should be taken to raise your organisation’s digital IQ:
Link your business and digital strategies
A critical first step in raising your Digital IQ is to link your business strategy to your digital strategy. Having a high Digital IQ is about making digital investments that deliver—and sustain—value. The only digital investments you should make are those that fit well with your organisation strategically. Something might be cutting-edge technology, but if it doesn’t help your organisation achieve a strategic business objective, it should not be a priority for adoption.
Diagnose and determine digital initiatives
Bring your business and IT leaders together to access the digital health of your organisation. The goal is to identify gaps so that you can prioritise action in your digital strategy that will complement the business strategy.
Build external digital relationships
Every organisation should make connections outside of the organisation in places where digital disruption is occurring. Open-source projects, “maker” communities, universities and start-up incubators are all places to form connections that help you be aware of business-changing technology on the horizon.
All leadership needs to understand the digital needs of your company
Your Digital IQ has company wide impact, so all leadership from the CMO to the CFO and CIO, need to be aligned with the digital needs of your company.
Focus on the human experience
This is an area that’s under your control, and focusing on the human experience is especially important with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Consider customer and employee interactions, how you deliver digital initiatives and how you create a culture of technology innovation and adoption as well one that is conducive to learning and collaboration.
Evaluate your technology investment
The PwC survey found that spending on emerging technologies is not much higher today than it was 10 years ago. Ensure your organisation has budgeted for today’s technology as well as the tech needs for tomorrow.
As the rate of new technology continues to speed up and our technology reality becomes more complex, it’s time for organisations to devote even more resources to increasing their Digital IQs or they will soon fall behind.
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Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.