Firms at Risk As C-Suite Pays ‘lip Service’ to Digital Transformation

London - 13 December 2016

  • 86% of Britain’s biggest businesses have assessed their risk of digital disruption, with the majority putting a C-suite exec in charge of driving digital change
  • But, over half (55%) of L&D professionals believe C-suite execs only pay lip service to transformation
  • Lack of boardroom commitment having an impact on a quarter of L&D professionals who feel powerless to influence change 
  • Less than three in ten businesses (28%) invest in digital learning across the entire business
  • A quarter (25%) of businesses fail to benchmark and measure the impact of digital training programmes and almost a fifth (18%) report low levels of employee engagement in these programmes
  • Industry sectors ranked by digital readiness, with energy and utilities the least prepared

Britain's biggest businesses risk being disrupted by the pace of technological change because their senior leaders are paying lip service to the need for digital transformation. That’s according to senior managers responsible for the learning and development (L&D) of staff at Britain's biggest firms – turnovers of £100m+.

The need for digital transformation is accepted, almost universally, among the respondents. 86% say they have assessed the business risk of not taking action and 88% have taken steps to address this. Yet, despite 93% of L&D professionals saying a digital transformation strategy is in place, the report suggests critical top down buy-in is missing.

Limited C-suite buy-in holding back digital transformation

For 43% of businesses, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is heading up digital change with just under a quarter (24%) assigning responsibility to a Chief Digital Officer (CDO). For a fifth (22%) of businesses the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is leading the drive towards digital transformation.

Despite the majority of businesses having a C-suite exec in charge of digital transformation, their commitment is in question. Over half (55%) of L&D professionals believe C-suite execs only pay lip service to transformation. 

This lack of commitment from the top has repercussions further down the organisation, with a fifth (21%) of L&D respondents feeling powerless to influence change.

Investment in digital training not equal across the business – marketing takes lion’s share
Businesses claim that upskilling workforces is a priority, with 81% of respondents having a digital learning programme in place. However, investment in digital skills isn’t being shared equally across the business. Just under three in ten businesses (28%) provide digital training across their entire business. For over 40% of businesses, the lion’s share is allocated to the sales and marketing department. 

Just one fifth (19%) of overall training budgets is spent on digital.

Current digital training lacks engagement, benchmarking and impact assessment
Delivering effective learning outcomes that are measurable is a concern for L&D professionals. For over a fifth (22%) of respondents the digital training undertaken to date hasn’t delivered tangible and measurable ROI.  A quarter of L&D managers say their organisation doesn't benchmark their skill levels and almost a fifth (18%) report low levels of employee engagement in their training programmes. Just a quarter (26%) of organisations incorporate digital literacy into staff performance reviews

Lisa Barrett, managing director at AVADO comments; "We’ve learned that for businesses to really grasp the digital opportunity, it takes serious commitment from leadership and the right levels of investment in the right kinds of training programmes – ones that deliver business impact. Put simply, companies need to take their whole organisation on a learning journey. And for the ones that get this right, the results can be transformational."

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