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Being Digitally Smart in a Digitally Impaired Organization

by Craig Roth  |  April 11, 2014  |  4 Comments

PwC just released its 6th Annual Digital IQ Survey. In it they define 5 behaviors of high-performing organizations and state:

If you want to boost your company’s performance, raise your Digital IQ by developing these five behaviors.

That’s great advice for the executives that can “create a common talent framework to manage and develop those in digital roles” or help their CEO become “an active champion in the use of IT to achieve business strategy”.

But what about the poor folks in the trenches that know the smart thing to do, but don’t have the ability to raise “Digital IQ” (to borrow their term)? You can pester the executives about it, but trying more than once is a career limiting move.

You can aim for their hearts by pointing out that “those businesses … that have a strong Digital IQ … were 2.2 times more likely to be top-performers in revenue growth, profitability, and innovation.” but don’t be surprised if the causality is turned around. Sure, if your company was swimming in growth, profit, and innovation it would be easier to make IT platform investments, raise the priority of digital projects, and risk jumping onto leading-edge outside-in approaches. But most organizations aren’t doing so well (or don’t let on that they are). As one client worded it to me “We’re in HD: hunker down mode”.

So, to be a bit crass, how do you accomplish digitally smart things in a digitally impaired company? According to the study, 80% of companies rated themselves as having a less than “excellent” Digital IQ. Siginificantly increasing an organization’s ability to understand, value, and embed technology in critical business processes takes a long time. In the meantime there are major trends that need to be addressed in 2014 to stay competitive – cloud, mobile, social, and the leveraging of information.

I wish I had a step-by-step list on how to get past this conundrum, but that’s more an art than a science. It is painful to act in a high digital IQ way in a low digital IQ organization.

As an analyst I don’t get to pick just the most advanced clients, nor do I get to just say their problem is low digital IQ and raising it would help them with their collaboration system rollout or mobile UC project. The approach (“answer” is too strong) is to adjust the “best practices” approaches for the environment. That may mean extending timelines, dividing the project into smaller steps (by technology or by group), and reducing scope/expectations. Success measurements may have to be more pedestrian (such as number of users, amount of usage, time saved in one inefficient process) rather than lofty measures that require a high Digitial IQ such as engagement.

And, above all, patience. A single project of advanced sophistication can act as a beacon for others in a company whose executives think “we’re not Google”. When it becomes clear that the right people can apply wonderful technology to their problems using existing skills and staff, the wheels of progress can start to turn and a vision of a smarter company can result.

Category: organization  

Craig Roth
Research VP, Tech and Service Providers
7 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Craig Roth is a Research Vice President focused on cloud office suites, collaboration tools, content management, and how they are being impacted by digital workplace and digital business trends...Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Being Digitally Smart in a Digitally Impaired Organization

  1. Peter Henry says:

    Hi Craig, I loved this article because we are a company that integrates standardized processes for small and medium businesses using best of breed SaaS Apps. We overlay the services with our Growthlogic proprietary business framework to standardize basic operational procedures that make collaboration and “getting things done” the focus. I would love to chat sometime.


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