Digital maturity – how to transform your business not just marketing

For many years, the marketing department has been the golden-boy of digital technology. Wheeled in to executive meetings to explain the latest digital trends, tools or social buzz. If it has anything to do with being digital, marketing supposedly know, and they will get the investment. However, no matter how digitally competent your marketing department is, they alone cannot transform your organisation into a digital business.

What is digital maturity?

“Digital maturity combines two separate but related things. One is digital intensity, the level of investment in technology-enabled initiatives meant to change how the company operates. The other is transformation management intensity, the level of investment in the leadership capabilities needed to create digital transformation within an organization.” MIT Sloan Management Review (

Digital intensity often focuses on aspects of customer engagement such as digital marketing, social media activity and mobile apps. Another aspect is enabling internal operations through technology, for example using real time monitoring of operations, automating manual processes, connecting websites to CRM platforms.

On its own the technologies or initiatives act as a scatter gun approach to achieving financial success. It’s only when they are combined with transformation management intensity, can maximum returns be secured.

Transformation management intensity requires;

  • strong strategic vision of the organisation’s future,
  • governance and engagement to ensure there is a culture of ‘digital’ across the business, and
  • building a strong IT-business relationship

Cap Gemini use these two dimensions to spell out four different types of digital maturity.

Digital Maturity model


Beginners – often unaware of the opportunities and do very little with digital opportunities.

Fashionistas – experiment or implement many trendy digital applications. Some work, many do not due to a lack of enterprise level governance.

Conservatives – favour prudence over innovation but understand the need for a strong unified vision. Because of this they sometimes miss out on valuable opportunities.

Digirati – truly understand how to drive value with digital transformation, combining vision, careful governance and engagement with significant investment in technologies, skills and recruitment.

In a two-year study covering 400 large firms, Cap Gemini discovered that whilst most firms are taking advantage of digital technologies, few firms positioned themselves to capture the real business benefits. Their research highlighted the digital and financial advantage to those that do.

profitability of digital maturity

The rewards are not just restricted to high-technology industries either. Traditional industries such as manufacturing and utilities benefit too.

How do you begin your digital transformation?

The first thing you should do is carefully assess your organisation’s digital competence; identify where your digital strengths and weaknesses are. Look at what your key competitors are doing or similar organisations. It is also important to do some future gazing and imagine what could happen in your industry with the power of technology.

It is important to have a clear vision for your organisation and this shouldn’t be bogged down in how your organisation does things, but the outcomes of its operation. For example; Yell moved from being the big yellow book to connecting small businesses with local communities. Setting objectives and milestones provides focus to the organisation and ensures there is a culture that drives the transformation you want to achieve.

Along with vision and objectives, your organisation is going to need the tools and investment to make change happen. You will need to identify what is needed in your organisation. This could impact the way you recruit future employees and how you train current employees to ensure you have the right skill set needed. IT capabilities suddenly become an important success indicator for your business, so you may need to invest in IT infrastructure. Projects come with overheads, so this will again impact the way you invest your money.

Quick wins

Your digital transformation can hit the ground running if you start with quick wins. Often organisations get drawn into large lengthy projects with no real promise of success. So start small.

Take a look at what simple initiatives can be introduced to improve customer experience. Some travel sites send flight status updates, whilst utility companies allow customers to check bill and obtain meter data online.

Another focus of quick wins should be to improve internal processes and functions such as replacing manual data entry with integrating systems, or similar introductions that can reduce costs and increase productivity.

The data behind these and other digital activities should be able to provide a good indicator as to how effective they are, providing you with more clarity on what your customers, company and industry are willing to accept – in other words the minimum viable product (MVP).

Once you have identified your digital vision and objectives and armed with the experience of the initial quick wins; it’s time to scale up the digital initiatives.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, the fastest way to do this is to acquire digital talent on a temporary basis and then bring it in-house over time.

Some organisations partner with another company, create a joint-venture or an outright acquisition to gain the skills they need. It depends on how bold and ambitious your plan is.

A challenge for any firm on a transformation journey is sustaining momentum for change. Finding a way to analyse and monitor progress towards your digital ambition is important, as that will give the senior management team confidence the organisation is moving in the right direction. That being said, no transformation is every done in a straight line. There’s going to be roadblocks, question marks, discoveries and challenges. So, perseverance along with opportunities to iterate and improve are important.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of advancing digital maturity, I strongly recommend reading Cap Gemini’s ‘The Digital Advantage’.

The Boston Consulting Group also have issued their thoughts on jump starting your digital transformation.

If you need digital expertise to help form or implement your transformation plan get in touch.

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