Half of enterprise-scale businesses covered in a globe-spanning digital transformation survey commissioned by CenturyLink and carried out by 451 Research have a formal digital transformation strategy in place. The results indicate the extent to which a new phase of adoption and use of digital information and communications technology (ICT) is reshaping the way we work and live.

Approaching one-quarter (23%) of enterprise respondents surveyed in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific are engaged in stand-alone, “siloed,” digital projects that aren’t part of a broader-based digitization strategy and just shy of one in five (19%) are in the planning stages, 451 highlights.

At one far-end of the spectrum, just 7 percent do not have an ongoing digital transformation strategy.

Digital Transformation Survey
The survey results suggest adoption  and implementation of digital transformation strategies will ramp up in coming years. Over four in 10 (42%) of respondents expect the deployment of new digital technologies will cause “major disruption” as they play out in their respective fields.

“Digital transformation programs are now being viewed as strategic, long-term initiatives and typically receive the support of top-level executives,” said report author Sheryl Kingstone, director of customer experience & commerce at 451 Research. “In fact, 60 percent of enterprises are increasing their IT spending levels to achieve the significant benefits of digital transformation.”

Added CenturyLink chief marketing officer Bill Hurley: “In a global economy that’s dominated by disruption, innovation and cyber threats, speed to market is of the essence. However, the complexities associated with digital transformation can result in numerous roadblocks.

“Moving to a superior network and employing agile cloud technologies are keys to simplifying the transformation process. This approach is a foundational element of success in digital transformation.”

451 emphasized the need and importance of both speed and security in crafting and carrying out digital transformation strategies and projects. Executives surveyed highlighted what researchers called four associated “pillars”:

  • Improve the level of business agility – 53 percent
  • Better manage business risk – 49 percent
  • Improve operational efficiency – 41 percent
  • Improve the internal or external customer experience – 41 percent

Nonetheless, the scope, scale and complexity of digital transformation strategies and projects requires lots of time when it comes to implementation. More than 40 percent of respondents projected it will take three to five years in order for their organizations’ digital transformation strategies to be fully realized.

Furthermore, the ability of an organization to be innovative in these efforts appears to be directly correlated with their “digital transformation maturity,” according to 451. Just shy of six in 10 respondents working for organizations with a digital transformation strategy in place said their organizations were capable and fast to innovate. Eighteen percent said their organizations were slow to innovate.

Barriers to Success
451 found three primary barriers to success:

  • Inflexible IT systems and the need for agility – 35 percent
  • Organizational silos and the need to uncouple legacy practices – 33 percent
  • Risk and security, including the need for assured data custody – 31 percent

Others of significance included potential failure to secure sensitive data (30%), lack of available funding, capital or budget (30%); and challenges associated with collaborating with multiple service partners or providers (27%).

The latter numbers among the critical factors for digital transformation success. More than nine in 10 (92%) of respondents expressed willingness to use a third-party digital transformation partner.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said their organizations are using or expect to collaborate with an IT services company (including telco IT services providers) in carrying out digital transformation programs.

IT services and telecom service providers are involved with 52 percent of digital transformation programs among those organizations that have a formal strategy in place. Approaching half (45%) of respondents said they plan or intend to collaborate with a cloud services providers.