Accenture: Only one in five businesses digital proof

15 June 2015

While the vast majority of employers recognise the benefits of digital technologies for their business, only one in five says their business is already a digital one, research by Accenture shows. The lack of the right skills is seen as the primary barrier to their transformation. While this is the case, employees are keen on adopting digital as they feel these technologies will improve their work life. According to Accenture, businesses should close the gap between the needed skills and the willingness of employees to learn them.

Professional services firm Accenture recently released a new report on digital technologies on the work floor, titled ‘Being digital Embrace the future of work and your people will embrace it with you’. For the report, the firm surveyed 700 business leaders in the US, China, Japan and EU, as well as 2,500 employees in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Benefits for businesses of digital technologies

The research shows that many employers are fully aware of the benefits of digital technologies. Eight out of ten (81%) respondents say they will enhance productivity, with almost the same percentage (79%) believing digital technologies will benefit them in innovation and save them money. Other benefits mentioned are agility (77%), quality of work (76%) and employee engagement (71%).

Of the surveyed business leaders, only one in five feels their business is already a digital business, with almost half (49%) saying they have a strategy for the management and development of skills and talent in a digital world. Of the respondents, 44% says the lack of digital skills forms a key barrier to their digital transformation and only 34% claims to be prepared to change the skill mix of the workforce or to recruit of those skills.

Preparedness of businesses for change

Although business leaders feel their workforce is unprepared for the transformation into a digital business, the research also shows that the majority of the surveyed employees are optimistic about the impact of digital on their work, with 57% of workers in the EU thinking digital technologies, such as robots, mobile apps, data analytics and artificial intelligence will improve their working lives.

As they expect the technologies to have a positive influence, many of the workers are acting on their enthusiasm for digital technologies, with 62% assessing the new skills and capabilities that will be required of them in the future and 64% claiming to be proactively learning new digital tools and skills. The biggest worries of workers concerning the adoption of digital technologies are the pressures of keeping up with the technologies (78%), the fear of being tracked in their every move (cited by 76%) and the worry of an eroding team spirit resulting from remote working (70%).

Proactive workers

“Europe’s future competitiveness depends on digital skills and the disconnect between business leaders and their employees is worrying,” explains Bruno Berthon, Managing Director at Accenture Strategy.  “With employees positive about the impact of digital on their work, CEOs should begin to experiment with new digital talent strategies today as they develop longer term plans. Companies cannot afford to wait and see, but must act now before their competitors disrupt their markets with digitally savvy workforces.”

According to Accenture, business leaders looking to transform their business into a digital company should “develop their teams with the know-how to support their digital strategies and experiment with different ways of organizing work. They need to form new types of partnerships to make the most of non-traditional talent pools. They must build a diverse, digitally savvy team that can inspire flexible, agile ways of working. And they must lead by example.”


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