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Digital Transformation: How far will leaders leap ahead?

Digital transformers know that digital isn't just a tool for improving business efficiency but something more profound.


Accenture commissioned a survey of 1,041 C-suite executives or board members from 20 countries representing 12 major industries on the prospects for the global economy and how digital transformation is impacting their core industry and the way they run their businesses. The research reveals that some companies are intensifying their efforts to drive digital transformation and accelerate ahead of their peers by emphasizing growth as the focus of their investments.

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Digital transformers understand the importance of a growth focus as the driver of their digital business strategy where their peers (the digital followers) don’t. They understand what digital can do for their businesses and that it is not just a tool for improving business efficiency but something more profound.

Digital transformers exist in every industry and geography. Their ambitions and investment plans set the pace, and their actions should become a core expectation for any future business strategy.


The research's report explicitly indicates that digital transformers have already figured out where digital can make the biggest difference. They plan to invest more than their peers in the areas seen as important for digital transformation. Some of the key findings are:

  • Digital transformers focus nearly twice as much of their digital investments on growth (40 percent) as digital followers (23 percent).

  • Digital transformers expect to excel in areas that illustrate this growth focus: sales (58 percent vs. 31 percent for digital followers), new sales channels (55 percent vs. 30 percent for digital followers), new products and services (58 percent vs. 34 percent for digital followers), and customer experiences (70 percent vs. 53 percent for digital followers).

  • Digital transformers consider the full range of digital technologies to be very important, in some cases nearly double to the digital followers. They have planned for significantly higher levels of total capital and intangible investments accordingly.

  • Disruption will be created for midsized companies by both large and small companies.

  • There is a real appetite for digital transformation across the major geographies. A majority of respondents across all regions expect complete or significant transformation from digital technology.


Digital transformers are accelerating adoption of an integrated digital business strategy as a response to customers’ redefinition of markets. Moreover, it is digital technology that enables these markets to change the nature of competition across industries.

Previously, transformation initiatives were largely driven from the inside-out—with processes such as Lean Six Sigma, Zero-based budgeting, Business Process Reengineering starting deep inside the organizations until their successes were obvious and then copied by their competitors.

Because this approach clearly threatens companies' long-held market positions, the best strategy to stay ahead of the competition is to adopt a consumer or outside-in view. This approach provides growth opportunities that are greater than traditional market definitions.

Digital channels and social solutions make decisions and actions visible to everyone. This also motivates companies to eliminate latency, break out of the traditional market cycle, and allows them to respond to evolving customer needs and feedback at lightning speed.


While Accenture strongly recommends that organizations embed digital transformation as part of their core business strategy, there are companies that get stuck in the middle. Somewhere between improvement and transformation, they lack clarity as to what to do.

We encourage executives responsible for digital strategy to reflect deeply on some critical questions to see how closely their organization’s views on digital align to those of digital transformers:


  1. How do others view digital transformation?

  2. What threats does digital pose to our business? How could competitors use it against us?

  3. How could digital capabilities pull us ahead of our competitors?

  4. Which new competitors are using digital to go after our customers? Which of them are succeeding at this? How are they doing it?

  5. What new products and services should we create with digital technologies?


  1. What are the new business models, new trends and new digital technologies that we most need to watch out for—and exploit?

  2. What new commercial arrangements could accelerate our digital investments?

  3. How do we organize for success, allocate resources and assign responsibilities?

  4. With whom should we now partner in a digital world?


  1. Do we explicitly focus our digital strategy on new growth opportunities or is digital just another marketing or efficiency program?

  2. How do we identify new markets and value migration in our industry?


  1. Which of our senior leaders should be responsible for our digital efforts? To what extent must it be a shared responsibility?

  2. How do we communicate our digital intent to the board of directors, customers, suppliers, employees and other partners?

  3. How should we organize, measure, recruit and reward in a digital world?