Inside the minds of today’s digital leaders

Some businesses are more globally integrated, more effective at sharing information and more likely to report better financial performance than their competitors. They’re also entirely digital across all major functions.

In a recent Economist Intelligence Unit survey of C-level executives and IT leaders around the world, these digital leaders stood out. The 7th annual survey report sponsored by DXC, “What Makes Digital Leaders: A Full C-Suite Perspective,” explores links between digital technologies and strategic success. It highlights current investments in IT and how companies plan to use digital technologies going forward.

The survey identified 41 digital leaders among more than 500 companies of different sizes, regions and industries.

What makes digital leaders special?

For starters, they are entirely digital across all major functions. This alone makes them a unique group of companies. But they also often cultivate IT strategy from the very top of their organization and have often tightly integrated their IT infrastructure to boost collaboration and empower the business.

Most respondents in the EIU survey say IT strategy is led by C-level execs. But for digital leaders, IT strategy more often comes straight from the top: 44 percent of respondents indicate that the CEO leads IT strategy. And 51 percent of digital leaders say IT is a crucial partner in meeting strategic goals, compared with just 25 percent of other executives.

As Rob Reeg, president of MasterCard Operations & Technologies (and interviewed in the report), put it, technology is the business: “It’s no longer enough to be a good technologist. Now you have to bring a strong understanding of what the business is. This is where we can — and must — add value.”

Digital leaders exemplify two more key characteristics:

  • Global integration of the enterprise
  • Effective information sharing across functions and regions

Nearly a third of the digital leaders in the EIU survey said their functions are somewhat or entirely integrated — a feat that three-quarters of other survey respondents are still struggling with. Of course, integration begets information sharing and greater collaboration, and 93 percent of digital leaders say they share information somewhat or very effectively.

So why does this matter? In short, because it’s good for business.

More than one-third, or 37 percent of digital leaders, say their fiscal performance was higher than competitors’ in the past fiscal year, compared with just 11 percent of respondents at other companies who participated in the survey.

To hear more from IT leaders and to discover what sets digital leaders apart, read the full report, “What Makes Digital Leaders: A Full C-Suite Perspective.” I’ll be sharing more thoughts on the report in the weeks to come.



Data’s role in the digital culture

How to prepare your business for a digital future

Journey to the Digital Enterprise


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