New report finds more than two-thirds of business leaders think of digital as a continuous evolution, not a transformation

  • C-suite research reveals businesses must embrace constant evolution and iteration to achieve digital success
  • More than two-thirds (68%) no longer think in terms of ‘transformation’ but rather of constant evolution to embrace change
  • The balance of tech, digital and culture is not mature, with 42% of digital-first businesses less likely to see digital transformation as a fundamental change
  • Marketing’s potential to transform the digital experience is not being used to its full potential: almost half unable to focus on continual improvement

London, 26 May 2022 – A new report from Netcel, Optimizely and Siteimprove has found that senior business leaders are no longer thinking in terms of digital transformation. Instead, more than two-thirds (68%) are moving to constant evolution and iteration to embrace change, suggesting that digital evolution is likely to replace digital transformation as a more effective method for businesses to adapt to and embrace today’s constantly evolving commercial landscape.

Research carried out by independent agency, London Research, questioned more than 300 C-suite executives about their attitudes towards digital transformation and how it relates to their business.

The findings, published today in ‘From Digital Transformation to Digital Evolution: Survival of the Quickest’, demonstrate that business has entered a period when thinking in terms of digital transformation isn’t enough. Instead, organisations need to achieve a state of continual evolution and constant awareness of – and response to – changes in technology, customer behaviour, and the competitive environment.

Key Survey Findings

The report found that, in a rapidly changing world, many organisations don’t have a shared view on what their digital experience should be achieving for business and customers and are struggling to keep up with the pace of change: skills are in short supply, insights aren’t clear, decision-making is arbitrary, and experimentation is not widespread, understood or encouraged in a systematic way. Additional survey findings include:

Everything is digital: A significant number of respondents have abandoned the idea of ‘digital’ as something separate from the rest of the business, with two-thirds (64%) saying everything they do is digital.

Digital transformation is a state of readiness: Digital-first businesses are less likely to see digital transformation as a fundamental organisational change (42%) compared with offline businesses (50%). Combined with their enthusiasm for Web 3.0, more than half of these digital-first businesses see digital transformation less as a journey with a defined end point, and more as a state of readiness for whatever technology might throw at them next.

More opportunities for marketing and martech to improve the digital experience: The survey found that marketing’s potential to transform the digital experience is not being used to its full potential with almost half of respondents saying they are unable to focus on continual improvement. Sixty-six percent of respondents say their marketing technology enables them to tailor and personalise digital experiences to individuals or segments, yet 44% feel that their marketing technology would benefit from greater development and 34% don’t have a marketing technology stack that is seamlessly integrated in a way that breaks down organisational silos.

“The passing of time has revealed that, while digital transformation can be successful to create short-term wins, digital transformation alone is only the first step to achieving true digital excellence. Instead, to achieve true and sustained digital excellence, digital transformation needs to be followed by the highly complex and ongoing process of digital evolution. This report produces fascinating insights into how organisations are evolving and reshaping themselves to create digital experiences that are high performing over the long term,” noted Tim Parfitt, CEO of digital product consultancy, Netcel.

“Over the past two decades, digital has proved itself to be the theatre for the most exciting, innovative and disruptive commercial and social initiatives to impact how we shop, connect, build relationships, become more efficient and grow our businesses,” commented Dom Graveson, Experience & Strategy Director at Netcel. “This report has been designed to take the temperature of where we stand in 2022, after many years of discussing the concept of digital transformation as a strategic goal to enable these benefits. It asks how far we have come, whether we feel equipped for an uncertain, dynamic and exciting future and, most importantly, where do we go next to discover, create and optimise differentiating digital product experiences that benefit our customers and audiences, our organisations, and our wider environment.”

The research also showed that respondents felt that technology is not widely thought to be prepared for the challenges ahead: systems struggle with shared data, analytics and a single customer view. Integration is an issue, and evolution and rollout of enterprise architecture may be a challenge. On top of that, martech is often owned by the IT department, which may lack cooperation with marketing, front-line services, and data and insights teams.

“While the digital landscape is constantly evolving due to changing consumer behaviours, companies must adopt new marketing strategies to keep up with the digital evolution. The ones who will thrive are those that recognise the importance of building a digitally fluent culture,” said Shane Paladin, CEO of Siteimprove. “Our core mission at Siteimprove is to help marketers meet their goals at every stage of their digital maturity, continuously evolve and progress. By building richer, deeper, more complete digital experiences, we’re part of the movement toward an internet that’s built for everyone.”

“The report confirms that digital transformation is an antiquated mindset for marketers. Marketing is not a destination but a journey. Successful marketing organisations must be built for the journey of constant improvement and adaptability otherwise they will fall behind,” said Kevin Bobowski, CMO at Siteimprove.

Alex Atzberger, CEO of Optimizely, commented, “Our findings draw a clear conclusion for many who continue to think their digital transformation is complete: in fact, businesses are often only talking about systems and processes rather than the broader organisational and cultural integration that reflects true and durable digital maturity. In other words, many businesses are ‘digitised’ rather than truly ‘digital’.”

The research was carried out by independent agency, London Research, during March and April 2022, who questioned more than 300 C-suite executives about their attitudes towards digital transformation and how it relates to their business

About Editor 2611 Articles
Lisa Baker is the Editor of International Business News. As the Owner of Need to See IT Publishing, Lisa is an experienced business and technology journalist and publisher.