Digital Transformation stymied by lack of talent and organizational structure, finds Russell Reynolds Associates’ Survey


Russell Reynolds Associates, a leading global executive search and leadership advisory firm, today announced the findings from its Digital Pulse: 2017 Outlook and Perspectives from the Market. The firm surveyed more than 1,500 senior executives at companies with a digital strategy to understand how digital is transforming talent and leadership needs across organizations. Now in its third year, the survey questions covered setting and executing digital strategy, organizational structure and barriers to success. The results of the study provide clients actionable insights so they can maximize the positive impact of d igital on their own organization.

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The good news? Leadership, by and large, recognizes the need for digital transformation and is supportive of it. Ninety-one percent of respondents say their CEO makes a visible effort to support the company’s digital vision and initiatives. Additionally, 60% of respondents say they have the appropriate leadership setting the digital vision. The bad news? Only 47% feel the right team is in place to effectively execute the strategy. The survey finds that digital transformation often is impeded by talent and structural issues, not an absence of executive support or strategic leadership.

Other findings from the study include:

– Organizations across all industries are expecting continued digital disruption over the next 12 months, with financial services, healthcare and industrial companies poised for the most change.

– More than half (57%) of respondents say their organization has sufficient data to recognize the opportunities digital presents, yet only 44% feel the data are effectively leveraged.

– Half of respondents (50%) say that lack of digital expertise and skills is a significant barrier to digital success, followed closely by organizational inertia (49%) and functional silos (47%).

– Nearly half (45%) of respondents surveyed say their company uses a hybrid structure, with both a central digital team and dispersed digital responsibility across business units. Most respondents see these partnerships with other departments, such as marketing and IT, as a critical success factor in digital transformation.
“Leadership support, while crucial, is not enough on its own to drive digital transformation across an organization,” said Tuck Rickards, Co-leader of the global Digital Transformation Practice and member of the CEO/Board Services Practice. “What we’ve seen through the Digital Pulse survey over the years is an increasing need to focus on recruiting the right digital talent and deploying these experts across an organization’s structure. Only then do you see substantive change.”

“Many, if not most, companies have reached the conclusion that they must embrace digital. But after several years of investments in innovation centers, catalyst roles and front-end technologies, leaders are grappling with the challenges of how to successfully scale, embed and operationalize transformation,” explained Rhys Grossman, Co-leader of the global Digital Transformation Practice and member of the Consumer Practice.

Industry-specific findings from the Digital Pulse survey are available upon request. For more information, visit