Forrester’s Predictions 2018: A Year Of Reckoning calls out a looming digital crisis: Globally, more than 60% of executives believe that they’re behind in their digital transformation plans. The situation is similar in Asia. Our recent report, “Advance Your Digital Maturity In Singapore And Hong Kong,” indicates that most of the firms operating in two of Asia’s most mature technology markets are still in the early stages of their digital transformation initiatives. In Q4 2017, Forrester surveyed 53 executives, including CIOs, CMOs and heads of digital at midsize and large firms, to understand where they stand in their digital transformation journeys. This report also highlights the core competencies (strategy, culture, organization, talent, and technology) and disciplines (alignment, rigor, insights, and metrics) that they need to strengthen or develop to mature further. Here’s what we found:

  • Organizational structure stalls digital transformation efforts. Among Hong Kong and Singapore firms, the least mature competency is (organizational) structure. For instance, only half of the respondents said that their company has aligned business units to customer journeys. This is a complex change to implement, as it will face cultural, political, and procedural resistance. In a bold move toward what Forrester calls a customer-obsessed operating model, Prudential Singapore decided to adopt a segment-oriented approach that will tag P&L performance to target customer segments.
  • Firms lack the programs required to attract and retain scarce digital talent. Only half of the respondents said that their firm has a companywide program to identify, hire, and nurture digital skills. Talent is critical in this digital battle, and firms who don’t aggressively attract and nurture staff with digital skills are diminishing their ability to innovate and compete. In 2018, talent will widen the divide between digital predators and prey; and laggards struggling with this will need to set up digital incubation centers and spend up to 20% above market salaries to change the game.
  • Lack of rigor stops firms from scaling early successes. While many firms have already achieved important milestones and minor successes along the journey, those successes still need to be repeated and scaled up across the enterprise to advance their digital maturity. Rigor requires firms to be able to follow a documented and repeatable process that accelerates the transformation and brings the most value out of it. Across the five competencies, less than 20% of firms follow a documented, repeatable process.

Firms aiming to drive lasting transformation and realize their digital business vision must develop all five competencies simultaneously. The whole idea of coping with digital crisis and accelerating your digital maturity may seem daunting, yet there is a well-researched and documented guide to fulfilling your digital mission. Start by balancing short-term wins with long-term gains and build the right organizational structure; also, establishing a central digital team is a crucial early step along this long journey. Forrester’s digital business playbook can help you understand how you can develop your organization’s journey to differentiate on digital.