Lack of strategic ownership stalling digital transformation plans


Johannesburg, 13 Aug 2019
Read time 3min 00sec

According to Dimension Data parent NTT Ltd.’s, 2019 Digital Means Business Report, only 11% of organisations are highly satisfied with those in charge of spearheading digital transformation, despite the fact that almost three-quarters of them are already underway on their journey.

Lauren Wortmann, Dimension Data Digital Advisory General Manager says that global digital trends directly impact South African businesses and society as a whole. Findings from the Report directly correlate to on-theground experience with most of South Africa’s leading businesses. Locally, there is a rising increase in requests for support in helping clients respond to this change through new ways of work.

Organisations worldwide are achieving some success with digital transformation, but there’s still a strong belief that this evolution requires radical, far-reaching changes to achieve success. This, when combined with a lack of strong transformational leadership and focus on the need to change people, is holding many companies back:

  • Some 71% of organisations in the early stages of transformation still believe a complete restructuring of the business and operating model is the primary definition of digital transformation.
  • Only 49% of respondents believe their leadership team has the right skills to manage the execution of digital transformation.
  • Lack of executive sponsorship or ownership is ranked as the top barrier to success.
  • This shortfall highlights the need for business leaders to change themselves, build a different environment, and set new behavioural priorities and performance indicators in order to drive a more proactive, tactical, and incremental approach to transformation.

As technology continues to bring efficiency to business operations, the mindsets, skills and ways of working for employees in South Africa need to adapt. The skills and jobs that exist today will look different in the future.

Focus needs to be placed not only on government to upskill and ready the workforce for this transformation, but will require private sector to play an active role.

For Wayne Speechly, Vice President of Advanced Competencies, NTT organisations are still grappling with how to shape their business to capitalise on a connected future. Digital creates the opportunity for value to be constantly derived from transformation initiatives across the business. Organisations should focus less on perfecting a grand digital plan, and more on taking considered and iterative steps in their transformation journey to progress value and clarity of subsequent moves. For various reasons, an organisation is its own worst enemy, so any change has to be supported by pragmatic, self-aware leadership who are themselves changing.

The Report explains that “digital transformation is by nature continuous, iterative, evolving, and never-ending”. South African organisations need to find new operating models that allow for innovation and experimentation, with the increased capacity created by digital revolution. The understanding of digital transformation also needs to move away from legacy measurements and thinking to one which is treated as a new way of working in the South African context.

The research surveyed over 1,150 executives, from 15 countries across North America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia Pacific, and from 11 industry verticals. The results provide invaluable insight into how these leaders perceive the business opportunities presented by digital transformation, the delivery challenges experienced in realising a digital transformation strategy, and the value being achieved.

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