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Digital transformation: Scattershot efforts mean big challenges with murky returns

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Digital transformation remains a big spending priority, but efforts remain scattershot and returns have been difficult to track, according to a Telstra survey.

Also: 7 ways to accelerate digital transformation success TechRepublic

Telstra, the Australian telecom giant, has a North America unit for multinational companies looking to utilize networks from U.S. to Australia and Asia. The Telstra survey, which covers 3,810 senior decision makers from 12 industries and 14 markets, found the following:

  • 33 percent of U.S. companies plan to make digital transformation a priority in the year ahead as well as increase total spend my more than 10 percent over the next three years. Globally, 32 percent of respondents said they will increase total spend by more than 10 percent over three years.
  • Yet, 29 percent of U.S. companies said they haven’t started a digital transformation effort. Globally, 30 percent of respondents haven’t started.
  • 26 percent of U.S. respondents said they make digital transformation decisions “extremely well,” but 27 percent said “not very well.”
  • Half of U.S. respondents said they have an incremental approach to digital transformation and business units drive initiatives. Thirty six percent of respondents said digital transformation was a whole company strategy.
  • 21 percent of U.S. respondents and 27 percent globally said their digital transformation decisions had little to no impact on the broader company.
  • 32 percent of U.S. respondents said that their digital transformation decisions impacted the entire organization (26 percent globally).
  • Security was the biggest priority for digital transformation followed by being more agile and optimized and delivering good customer experiences.

Overall, U.S. respondents had trouble showing hard returns such as revenue growth or better profit margins on digital transformation efforts. Increased customer and employee satisfaction are harder to quantify overall. “Measuring the progress and success of any digital transformation strategy or individual project is an absolute essential, said Telstra’s president for the Americas, Nicholas Collins.

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