Digital leaders focus on growth instead of efficiency

19 January 2015 3 min. read
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Digital leaders are on the rise, most visibly in the smallest but also the biggest companies, new research by Accenture shows. These leaders, dubbed Digital Transformers, not only use digital strategies to improve business efficiency, but as a tool to accelerate growth. The consulting firm states that to realise these growth ambitions, Transformers focus their digital investment on an expanded set of digital approaches, and increasingly adopt digital technologies.

Consulting firm Accenture recently released its new research report focused on digital transformation: “Digital Double-Down: How Far Will Leaders Leap Ahead?” For this report, the firm surveyed of 1,041 C-suite executives or board members from 20 countries representing 12 major industries on how digital transformation is impacting their core industry and the way they run their businesses.

Digital - Accenture

The research reveals that there are two types of companies when it comes to digital: those who continue to view digital technology as a tool for steadily improving existing business activities, the ‘digital followers’, and those who see digital as “something much more profound”, the ‘digital transformers’. The first category uses most of its digital technologies to improve business efficiency (64%), and less than a quarter of their digital efforts are focused on growth. Digital transformers also focus a big part of their digital technologies on improving their efficiency (55%), however, they also focus almost half of their digital technologies (40%) on accelerating growth. According to Accenture, “Digital transformers are not waiting to react to events, but are intensifying their efforts to drive digital transformation and accelerate ahead of their peers by emphasizing growth as the focus of their investments.”

Digital transformers vs. Digital followers

Looking at the focus areas of the digital investment by the two types of companies, the research shows that both Transformers and Followers focus most of their digital investment on ‘operational efficiency’. However, the research also shows that Transformers focus on many other areas, such as customer experience, new products/services and sales channels, areas that Followers invest much less in. According to Accenture, Transformers do this as they realise that focussing on the new approaches for attracting and retaining customers will help them to realise their growth strategies.

Focus areas of investment

For Transformers a full range of digital technologies appears to be very important, much more than for the Followers. The latter places only some importance on the six surveyed digital technologies, with the e-commerce ranking the most important, while still only 43% rated this technology as important. While the importance given to the different technologies matches between the two digital types, all technologies were ranked as important by at least half of the Transformers. Importance given by Transformers ranges from 65% for e-commerce and data analytics to 55% for social media.

Importance of digital technologies

Company size
Accenture also looked at where digital transformers thrive. While in the past digital transformation was seen as something appropriate for small companies but not for large ones, as these companies desired to maintain the status quo and to view such transformation as a form of media or consultant hype, the research shows that those objections are fading rapidly. Of the companies surveyed, the largest amount of Transformers is found in the smallest but also in the biggest companies, while mid-sized companies are staying behind. Accenture concludes: “Players at both ends of the revenue spectrum are markedly more growth focused with their digital investments. It is the mid-sized companies that are those most likely to be disrupted by digital change.”

Where Digital Transformers thrive