Home » C-suite threatens digital transformation success as managers struggle with disruptions

C-suite threatens digital transformation success as managers struggle with disruptions

by Peter Smyth, tech journalist
10th Jun 21 11:16 am

Four out of five C-level executives globally (82%) are confident their business is well-prepared digitally, but only 58% of managers agree, according to new global research from Digital Intelligence company ABBYY. In the UK, more than half of respondents (57%) feel they are digitally well-prepared for the current climate. This comes as managers say they have been burdened with disruptions to digital transformation (DX) 2.5x more than C-level executives, despite having new technologies on hand. This points to a worrying disconnect within businesses, causing a trend of wasted investments and opportunities.

For example, despite the emerging use of low-code/no-code platforms, only a quarter (24%) of managers use them in their current DX projects, which would empower them to quickly create their own solutions to automation problems and eliminate the need for manual coding. Meanwhile, only 34% of managers are using process mining, which would help them discover automation opportunities and the sources of bottlenecks and delays – but half (48%) of the C-Suite have access to this tech. However, overwhelmingly management across the board (60%+) recognise the importance of intelligent document processing (IDP) technology to digitise and transform enterprise content for more actionable insight.

Seniority Intelligent Document Processing No-code/Low code Platforms Process Mining RPA Business Process Management
C-level Executives 61% 37% 48% 45% 52%
Directors / Vice Presidents 60% 26% 43% 40% 52%
Senior Managers 62% 29% 44% 38% 47%
Managers 65% 24% 34% 32% 42%

Figure 1: Global respondents – “Which technologies are you already using in current digital transformation projects?”

While digital transformation has accelerated massively, it hasn’t been without challenges:

  • 96% of UK businesses have experienced disruptions to their DX projects, but surprisingly, only 6 in 10 (65%) say COVID-19 and remote working are to blame.
  • These disruptions have had a massive impact, though the UK was less adversely affected: 1 in 5 globally (22%) abandoned their digital transformation projects completely – compared to 1 in 6 (16%) in the UK., while 1 in 3 globally (32%) found the technology didn’t work as intended, compared to a quarter (24%) in the UK.
  • Additionally, UK decision makers believe these disruptions won’t end as soon as the pandemic does; 4 in 5 (78%) of UK businesses are expecting further business impacts.

When identifying the causes of these challenges, the survey found that in the UK:

  • Almost half blamed difficulty in getting budget approved (46%), replacing legacy systems (43%), and skills gaps within their organisations (40%).
  • A fifth (21%) said difficulty getting buy-in from their senior management or board was a major barrier.
  • What many businesses seem to be experiencing is C-Suite tunnel vision: 54% of C-level execs said they drive DX decision-making, but just 32% of managers agree – half of managers (47%) believe innovation teams are in the driving seat. With this new battleground emerging, it’s no wonder so many projects are failing.

Managers are also far less optimistic about how digitally prepared their organisation is compared to the C-Suite, and 38% of managers still face challenges even with new technologies in place, compared to just 16% of C-level executives. Meanwhile, only 28% of C-levels find getting budget approved a barrier, versus 37% of managers.

This disconnect between organisations’ senior leaders and the “doers” is not only failing to empower employees, but it’s preventing businesses from seeing digital transformation success. Simply put, the technology investments that were made by those at the top aren’t having the impact they should, despite 70% of U.K. 2021 DX budgets ranging from £500,000 to £5 million, and 40% expecting their 2022 budgets to increase.

Neil Murphy, Global VP at ABBYY, said, “We can see that some C-Suites are experiencing tunnel vision, which comes as no real surprise in a year when survival was top of the agenda. Unfortunately, our research exposed that despite leaders’ best efforts, junior staff and middle managers are still experiencing challenges, even with intelligent automation technologies in place or readily available.

“It’s crucial to understand which technologies can improve productivity and where it will have the most impact. After all, technology should be an enabler for empowering employees even in a remote and distributed workplace. The broad use of IDP solutions is the first step in what leaders can do to empower their employees to have faster access to information. However, process mining and the intelligence it delivers will bridge the gap between the reality of what managers and workers are experiencing and what the C-Suite is expecting. The onus in now on leaders to invest in the right technologies and adopt an employee-first mindset to complement their digital-first goals.”

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