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Why digital investment doesn’t always pay off

Companies are spending more on going digital but if the CEO isn’t leading the charge or the heads of IT and marketing are at odds, that money will go to waste. That’s according to consultants PwC, whose sixth annual Digital IQ survey shows only one in five businesses and IT execs globally genuinely get what digital means for their business and how to use technology to reach their business goals.

The company’s digital market leader Paul Brabin cites a separate study that shows organisations that make the most from their technology investments are twice as likely to grow revenue and be profitable and innovative. Worldwide IT spend is tipped to grow more than three percent this year, he says.

“Customers are dictating their terms of engagement with business more than ever before, and demanding a more personalised, responsive and engaging experience, which digital technology can provide,” says Brabin. “But how we use technology is everything. For example, what is the use of big data if you can’t understand it and it doesn’t give you any insight?”

PwC has identified five factors that influence a company’s ‘digital IQ’. They include a CEO who sets and steers a firm’s digital vision. According to PwC, 81 percent of top performing companies say their CEO champions using IT to achieve business strategy.

The second behaviour is a strong relationship between the CIO and chief marketing officer. Seventy percent of top performing firms said this relationship was strong, compared with 45 percent of other companies.

“The CEO must ensure that marketing and development teams engage the CIO in early discussions around product, service and customer innovation,” says PwC.

Companies should also take an ‘outside-in’ approach to digital, with the best performing companies being those likely to look to industr analysts, vendors, universities and labs outside their organisation for ideas, as well as those inside their business.

Digital IQ is also about thinking bigger than technology investment, thinking instead about remaking IT to better meet business needs. The fifth behaviour was seeing digital as a function of the whole business rather than a centralised, single function. 

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