When leadership issues a corporate mandate, employees are expected to execute on it. But what happens when a mandate is clear, but workers are not given the resources to do the work?
During the 2018 Enaxis Leadership Forum, surveyed participants reported that 92% of their organizations have established, or planned to establish, a digital strategy as a high-priority of the organization within the next 12 months. This is an overwhelming endorsement of the importance of establishing digital strategies as core strategic targets. Organizations recognize the effects digital transformations are having across industries, and a significant majority have already prepared themselves to act upon it. This was found to be true across a variety of industries, which highlights how pervasive digital transformations are becoming across all businesses.
Despite this significant intended adoption, however, a major fissure is likely to hinder organizations from following through on their vision. The fissure? Lack of funding.
Figure 1: Timing of digital strategy importance
In the same survey, of participants who confirmed their organization’s interest in pursuing digital strategies, only 69% of their companies had budgeted for digital capabilities in the current fiscal year. Therefore, nearly a third of the surveyed organizations have no hope to achieve any advancement of their digital strategy since they have not committed to funding the effort.
For the digital wave to be successful, corporations must commit to the long-haul by clearly articulating their digital strategy and providing support, both in investment dollars and in human capital, to execute on it. Before data scientists can implement algorithms and begin providing new statistical analysis, the foundational building blocks must be in place. Defining a digital strategy, identifying use cases, cleaning data, and preparing the organization to reap the benefits of digital advancement takes time and money.
The lack of funding these organizations are reporting is echoed by respondents’ impressions of how their organizations are approaching digital. In the same survey, only 54% felt like their organization was ready to respond to digital trends. Reasons given ranged from lack of funding to lack of a fully formed digital strategy. This highlights that simply having a strategy, and having a fully formed strategy that has been well communicated across the organization, are two very different things. Still, the biggest hindering factor cited by respondents was the lack of investment dollars allocated to digital strategy development. Employees notice when corporate mandates are not followed up with investment dollars. The message becomes clear that the mandate is not actually a top priority.
Talk is cheap. Until business leaders take the time to develop a thoughtful strategy backed with meaningful funding, the chances of the digital wave bearing fruit will be limited. Leadership and vision are vital components, but digital strategies cannot be reasonably implemented without funding to back it up.