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C-Suite Threatens Digital Transformation Success as Managers Struggle with Disruptions


Four out of five C-level executives (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.

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.

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

  • 97% of businesses have experienced disruptions to their DX projects, but surprisingly, only 6-in-10 (60%) say COVID-19 and remote working are to blame. These disruptions have had a massive impact: 1-in-5 abandoned their digital transformation project completely (22%), and 1-in-3 found the technology didn’t work as intended (32%).
  • Additionally, decision makers believe these disruptions won’t end as soon as the pandemic does; three-quarters (76%) of global businesses are expecting further business impacts.

When identifying the causes of these challenges, the survey found the following:

  • More than a third blamed difficulty in replacing legacy systems (36%), getting budget approved (35%), and skills gaps within their organizations (34%).
  • A quarter (23%) 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 organization 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 organizations’ senior leaders and the “doers” is not only failing to empower employees, but it’s preventing businesses from seeing digital transformation success.

Bruce Orcutt, Senior Vice President of Marketing at ABBYY, said, “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.”

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