More than half (57%) of business leaders do not understand the digital economy, new research has revealed.
The OnePoll study, commissioned by Ness Software Engineering Services (SES), highlights organisations’ lack of preparation in delivering the digital experiences and access buyers desire and require.
However, companies are aware that there is an innovation gap to bridge, with 42% of the survey’s respondents saying a lack of innovation at their companies would harm future prospects, and 42% expecting to increase spending on R&D.
In terms of leadership, there was a majority view (57%) among respondents that business executives in their companies should lead digital transformations, rather than IT.
This aligns with a broader industry trend that puts pressure on technologists to find innovative ways to use technology to grow the business, rather than solely focusing on basic IT system maintenance and cost reduction.
The study has identified a lack of in-house skills and suitable technology infrastructure as the biggest factors holding enterprises back from competing in the digital economy.
Nearly half (46%) said they do not have the skills or expertise to drive digital transformation projects in terms of developing, deploying, managing and supporting the technology.
They are short on expertise in areas including e-commerce (cited by 40%), e-business (44%) and supporting digital infrastructures such as cloud and mobile (48%).
The ability to execute change is a key obstacle, with 42% saying they do not have the infrastructure to develop and roll out digital products fast enough.
To close the gap between the digital needs of the business and internal capabilities, many companies are engaging external technology partners.
Almost half (42%) of those surveyed said they outsource technical engineering services. The top priority for engaging with a partner is the partner’s ability to deliver both on time and on budget, cited by 39% of respondents.
This can be a challenge in practical terms, however, if the company needs to hire one partner for front-end user experience design and development, and another for back-end product engineering and data analytics.
Often, the two pieces are not well-coordinated, which leads to time and cost overruns throughout the life of the products and services. This synchronisation becomes increasingly critical in today’s fast-paced and innovative markets.
“The growth of the digital economy is a major transformative force in the market where digital native companies are disrupting the business models of traditional companies to steal market share,” said Doug Mow, senior VP of corporate strategy and CMO at Ness SES.
“In response, incumbent businesses must modernise their user experiences, products, and systems to remain competitive. This includes engaging customers and partners via electronic commerce mechanisms, modern form factors such as mobile, and with real-time, personalised insight.”
The study asked 1,000 business leaders in the UK, from a mix of industries, how they feel about the digital economy and their company’s role in it.