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The key to digital success is time

05 May 2016

Accenture’s new study on digital success yields some interesting results: Companies usually love their digital profiles, regardless of how much they earn from it, and are often dissatisfied with the employees who currently work on it. And yet, despite all this, patience is probably what these companies need most.

The survey included a very wide range of respondents: “CMO, CDO, CIO, SVP, VP, and senior digital executives at companies”, which earn anywhere from $1 billion to more than $75 billion in revenue, “spanning the consumer-packaged goods, manufacturing, retail, financial services, communications, media and technology, SaaS, healthcare, hospitality and travel industries.”

First and foremost, how do these businesses measure digital success? The four most common key performance indicators for digital engagement are: revenues, digital traffic, and increases in revenue or sales. So let’s look at sales: more than half of all businesses surveyed stated that they get less than 25% of their sales from digital.

The top concerns about digital strategy are customer retention and acquisition, internal staff skill sets, and process. Many companies struggle with identifying an efficient way to organise corporate structures, and have trouble finding people with the skills to create and maintain their digital presence. This indicates that digital strategies are either a low priority, or poorly implemented/maintained.

In fact, 31% of respondents said that they were “not satisfied with the skill sets of their current employees in their digital organisations”, and more companies would prefer to just hire new people than train existing employees. Ouch. Companies clearly need guidance on how to structure their digital presences - sounds good for Accenture.

Regardless of the company’s employees or operating model, the key is apparently time: only a quarter of all digital organisations have existed for more than five years. Of that quarter, 39% are market leaders (businesses that earn 50% or more of their sales via digital means). Those who are digital veterans are more likely to succeed than their newbie counterparts. Accenture says “the data suggests the most successful digital organisations have learned important lessons over time”. So don’t go firing the employees in your digital organisations - just wait it out.


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