Digital Maturity is a new Business Standard

The business world always changing, making big waves and shaking the ground with new trends — emerging manifestation of the transition to a future-state reality. Today, it is happened to be Digital Transformation (DX).

Basically, when it happened, every company became impacted, and leaders started to feel the urge to respond. Unfortunately, only a few businesses benefit from natural adoption. Everyone else is just catching up or fighting for “survival”, out of which many fail and disappear. The success rate with DX initiatives is still relatively low, causing business growth to go flat and make ignorance to customer demand for innovation unforgivably expensive.

Please welcome — Digital Maturity

More than 70% of companies actively invest in DX initiatives, but the outcome often depends on the current state of organizational readiness to accept, implement, and adopt changes. It requires the ultimate response from those companies to work with new ideas, advanced technologies, processes re-engineering methodologies, people enablement programs, and operational model optimizations. Additionally, customer experience should become a center of the decision-making. One of the secret factors of a successful response to change lies in the concept of Digital Maturity (DM).

DM is a proactive notification system used by leaders and executives that creates transparency and awareness about impact of tactical and strategic decisions made as part of the DX initiatives. When used consistently, it can influence ease of transformation for the business. It also helps measure the company’s ability to proactively prepare for forthcoming challenges, dramatic changes and withstand crises.

Starting DX initiatives without knowing the current state of the organization’s DM is like running in the forest with eyes closed — everyone hopes for the best, knowing very well what will happen. That is why only 5% of such initiatives achieve goals, 20% deliver less than half, and 75% accept mediocre results.

Predictable reasons for failure

Leaders often neglect DM due to the lack of personal awareness, reactive business lifestyle, and the never-ending fight for the cost control. The global price of ignorance is roughly $4.9T of the annually wasted budget, which is 28% more than the annual revenue of the USA Government in 2021.

There are obvious signals of failure, which may seem simple, but are very powerful and devastating for companies:

  • No expertise in the house to boost DM and execute DX effectively
  • No data-driven decisions lead to biased opinions about readiness for DX
  • Leadership doesn’t promote DM, which creates misalignment on all levels
  • Business partners are unable to support the DM concept as part of DX
  • Culture doesn’t motivate DM growth, instead creates fear and resistance

It has been proven that companies with high DM have better financial results with potentially 45% more revenue and 306% longer customer lifetime.

Now, if things are so simple, why everyone having a hard time to use it?

The World of Maturity

There are approximately 15 business categories with 40+ maturity frameworks available. Despite the diversity, most of the basic principles of maturity are the same:

  • Progression or ladder system designed to support growth
  • Well-defined criteria to move between the levels
  • Iterative improvement process with a feedback loop

Such high level conceptual overlap makes maturity functions highly theoretical and push management to approach it as a formality. In general, maturity principles are undeveloped even for basic business needs and has significant practical applicability and usability challenge.

This situation should change as soon as possible.

Business giants like Deloitte, BCG, and McKinsey already developed unique DM models to help different industries to mitigate DX adoption challenges — great step forward. However, not every organization can afford or need expensive consulting to get to self-sufficiency.

Obvious struggle of quick start

It is relatively easy to start a journey of Digital Maturity and boost the success rate with Digital Transformation initiatives.

Below are basic steps for companies, who is looking to optimize DX value:

  • Hire a full-time employee to oversee your company’s DM
  • Check what Maturity Frameworks are applicable to your business
  • Build internal Digital Maturity Model reflective of the business needs
  • Benchmark DM via self-assessment and as many interviews as possible
  • Evaluate DM before and after each business-critical DX initiative
  • Ensure DM is well connected to business objectives for transparency
  • Show employees how their engagement boost DM and impact the business
  • Automate DM process for faster response and data driven decisions

Think of the DM concept as a game. Start your journey, finish a few main and some side quests, build a reputation with everyone, and gain as much experience as possible. Level up and fight the dragons. With every new one there are more interesting riddles to solve, opportunities to attract new talent, and open space for remarkable achievements. It will get much more rewarding with every step.

Outcomes, ideally, will reward with real great customer experience, leadership market positions, and hyper-growth.

Imagining the future

Think of Google Review System with a 5-star rating. That’s how companies will measure Digital Maturity soon. Every business will have a respective Maturity Score, collected, and assessed internally, so that everyone in the organization would know how a company is progressing toward its business objectives.

The most progressive organizations will make scores available to the public, leading to the creation of the Global Maturity Scoreboard. Eventually, companies will collaborate to define industry standards for maturity and help each other with a succession plan for Digital Transformation initiatives.

Partners and vendors will better understand real challenges and offer services and products that could address them more effectively.

In the end, Digital Maturity will become a business standard to measure success, forecast future potential, and change the way companies evolve.

(c) Artem Gonchakov

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