• Ratnesh Mittal

Who's the Most Digital of them all?

Ask any CEO about his business priorities and ‘Digital’ will figure in the top 3 for nearly all of them.

When it comes to execution, the experience is not so uniform.




A lot depends on the industry vertical, company size & vintage, but in my experience, most organisations can be categorised into one of the following:

1. The Hyper Digital – These are truly leaders of the pack. These organisations started much earlier, they realise the power of harnessing data, have set up separate teams for change initiatives & have freed up some of their best people to lead the change. Their early journeys involved fixing the basics right, aggressively moving applications to the cloud, adopting SaaS models, focusing on data collection & transmission systems. They are now on 2nd and 3rd order benefits of digital where the focus is on analytics & data driven decisions

2. The Earnest Triers – Organisations which have recognised that the future is digital & have committed themselves to it however, their efforts are episodical and siloed. They have a leadership level vision of digital but lack a co-ordinated plan to get there. The approval & adoption of digital initiatives in these organisations depends mainly on who is sponsoring them. Simple projects promising incremental improvements & contained within 1-2 departments are the easiest to sail through here.

3. The Repackagers – Since digital is the buzz word, these organisations have found a smart way of repackaging the regular improvements/tech refresh as ‘Digital’. This is more out of not having a clarity about how digital can really impact their world than any other sinister design. Such organisations usually emulate proven successes of other organisations within their industry. In usual cases, this strategy works out well but with digitalisation, they risk enormous disruption. Funny as it sounds, reality is that a majority of organisations actually fall in this category without realising it. There are a few digital champions in the company but an equal number of sceptics in positions that matter too.

4. Waiting in the Wings – These are sceptics who ask the right hard questions about what is digital, how is it different from their innovation & continuous improvement programs & demand to see the ROI before any investment in digital. Post lockdown, their ranks have depleted sharply but some of them still do exist beneath the veneer of rational doubt. The best way to push the envelope in such organisations is to aim for moderate improvements usually as ‘add-ons’.

Digitalisation is a journey in unchartered territory, each organisation discovering its own roadmap. Knowing where your or your customer’s organisation stands in this journey can help better navigate the terrain.

Do you agree with these views? What’s been your experience?

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