Digital Transformation: Are IT directors ready to lead the charge?

Today’s digitally fluent consumers have never been harder to win and retain. Focused on convenience, easily distracted, and accustomed to near limitless choice, engaging with them is an ongoing challenge. Yet doing so, while building lasting bonds of loyalty, is critical to business growth.

More and more businesses are recognising digital transformation (DX) as the soundest route to achieving greater agility around the customers’ demands – and often it falls to the IT department to drive their strategy forward. But how successfully are IT teams leading the charge?

To understand how they are responding to the digital transformation challenge, Black Pepper Software surveyed CTOs, CIOs and IT Directors from some of the leading names in the travel and financial services sectors for a new insight report. Here’s what they had to say:

Digital transformation is coming – but it’s not arrived for everyone

One key takeaway from our survey is just how many IT specialists recognise DX as a crucial step to continued competitiveness. Digital transformation was cited as the most important strategy for their company’s future by 71% of the IT Directors we polled.

However, there seems to be a disconnection between appreciating the DX imperative, and aligning it with overall business objectives. Only 7% of IT Directors feel confident they will have a formalised DX strategy in place by the end of the year, while the majority don’t expect to have plans formalised until the end of 2020. Even more concerning are the 6% who’ve devised a strategy but don’t believe it will ever be implemented.

This lag between understanding and action is great news for those companies with the foresight to act now and enjoy a competitive advantage for the next three years, but means most travel and finance businesses may end up implementing strategies designed just to keep pace.

The most effective way to strengthen the DX case is to ensure it is in line with the overall company vision. IT Directors need to communicate the benefit of investing in scalable technology with long-term value, and enthuse the board and other departments, by delivering clear understanding of the particular advantages DX will bring to them.

The big tech dilemma: Innovate or perpetuate?

Another challenge IT Directors are facing is how long they need to maintain legacy systems, which are becoming increasingly unfit for purpose, before taking the technology plunge.

Naturally, cost and resources are the biggest concerns, but 35% acknowledge that shortcomings with the systems they are currently using are leading to customer complaints and damaging the perception of their company brand.

In an age where business is won and lost on user experience and customer convenience, this is a particularly pressing point. Agile service is now part of the modern, multi-channel consumer’s general expectations, and a bad encounter can damage a valuable relationship for good.

Finding the right expertise and resources

Even for those with a digital transformation strategy in place, there are still obstacles to overcome. For example, 23% of IT Directors raised concerns about a lack of internal skills. In response, nearly three quarters of the IT directors we surveyed said they were open to outsourcing IT/technical implementation to enable DX within their business.

Even for IT Directors that are dedicated to upskilling in-house employees, and recruiting to achieve digital transformation, collaboration with a third party still makes practical sense. Working with a trusted DX partner can provide a valuable expert skillset as a short to medium term measure, while the right internal talent is found. This way, innovation is not held up by resourcing issues.

Travel and finance businesses can further benefit from third-party providers, not simply through their expertise, but via the innovative, agile software solutions that they have already developed and thoroughly tested. Software providers working in the digital transformation space have a wealth of experience to draw from, ensuring they can offer companies cutting-edge technology and deployment best practice to drive their DX strategies forward.

Is your digital transformation strategy ahead or behind the industry curve?

Find out by downloading our exclusive IT Director insights report.

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