What digital leaders do differently: Insights from Gartner’s Digital Execution Scorecard Survey

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    Actions may speak louder than words most of the time, but that is not the case with an initiative called the Gartner Digital Execution Scorecard, a content document designed to effectively demonstrate the value of a digital strategy.

    According to Steve Heck, senior executive partner with the research firm, its key focus is to provide a frame of reference that allows an organization to “take stock” of how digitally ready they really are.

    “It’s one thing to have digital aspirations,” he said yesterday at Digital Transformation Conference 2022. “It’s another thing to convert them into reality and gain the benefits. One of the problems we have it that there is no real frame of reference. How do you know if you are leading, keeping pace with your competitors or need to play catch up?

    “We created the scorecard to address these and other questions such as how do you generate revenue? How do you generate digital revenue?”

    A key part of what Gartner offers is an analysis of 15 different industries designed to determine how a particular organization stacks up in terms of a digital transformation (DX) initiative.

    As far as actual content in the scorecard is concerned, Heck said, “we asked the same questions that many of you have. Which organizations are succeeding with their digital transformation aspirations and more specifically, what are they doing differently?”

    There is, he added, a major difference in how top performing organizations are run, compared to companies struggling with their DX strategy.

    “One, they are doing things differently, they perform and behave in different ways. And the second thing is they invest in in different things. Top performers embrace more agile ways of working, they use ecosystems and leverage customer platforms to a greater degree. And they have a more of a digital culture and orchestrate digital skills throughout their business.

    “If we focus on what makes them more agile and iterative in terms of how they work, well, it starts by the fact they fund in a more of an agile way. We all know we like annual budgets; we like to be predictable; we like to make sure we know how much money we have to spend and how to stay within that. The agile way of working really doesn’t line up very well.”

    In addition, Heck said, they embrace the concept of ecosystems by leveraging both partners and vendors so that they are not having to “build everything internally from scratch.”

    To that end, scorecard results revealed that employee skill sets in top performing organizations are “much more digitally transformative and advanced: “Specifically, the IT leaders and other leaders of the organization demonstrate and model what it is to be a digital organization, which sets a great example for the broader workforce, and they invest in modern digital skills.

    “And that creates a really powerful force for the workforce, and allows them to bring their culture and bring their strategy to life.”

    Ultimately, he said, they are investing in their people: “The technology is something that we all have access to, we can invest in cloud services, we can invest in infrastructure, we can invest in the new devices, but the organizations that are really successful, are investing in the things that you can’t buy off the shelf.”

    They “invest in their digital culture and invest in how they work and in so doing create an atmosphere of continuous improvement and continuous and iterative delivery of value.”

    Heck recommended that anyone who has access to the scorecard should use it to see where they stand in terms of their DX journey.

    Anyone who does not should conduct their own assessment of just how digitally ready their organization is or not and from there put an action plan in place, he said.

    “A final thought is that this isn’t a kind of Big Bang, it’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ journey. You can make some incremental improvements in terms of your business that will have new and additive value by embracing digital transformation and the promise of it.

    “You have the ability to pick how aggressive you want to be with your digital transformation journey and aspirations.”

    As an example, one approach might be to add value in an incremental way, while an another would be to be far more ambitious.

    “If you want to be really aspirational, you can create a whole new product and satisfy a need that none of your competitors are actually thinking about yet,” said Heck.