Digital Maturity Varies Significantly by Industry, According to a BCG Study; Champions Spend More on Upskilling Their Workforce and on Technology and IT
BOSTON—Companies focusing on upskilling their workforces and spending more on technology/IT are typically more digitally mature than companies spending less on these priorities, according to a study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) based on a survey of 1,800 companies in Asia, the EU, and the US. Among industries surveyed, financial institutions and telecommunications companies are the most digitally advanced, with more than 25% of those companies across the globe qualifying as digital champions. Energy and public sector institutions trail, with more than 40% of those companies dubbed digital laggards
"It’s clear that prioritizing investments correctly is one of surest ways to become digitally mature," says Michael Grebe, senior partner and technology expert at BCG. Michael Ruessmann, BCG senior partner and expert on digital transformation, adds, "The laggards need to pay close attention to how industry leaders allocate their precious investment resources if they are to remain competitive and not lose ground.”
"Digital Acceleration Index" Measures the Degree of Digital Maturity
The study was based on BCG's Digital Acceleration Index (DAI). BCG asked managers and executives to assess their companies’ digital maturity against defined criteria on a scale from one to four in 35 categories. The firm then aggregated those raw scores and assigned values to their responses from 0 to 100. Companies with a DAI of 67 to 100 qualified as champions, while those with a DAI of 43 or less were categorized as laggards.
Where Do Digital Champions Come From?
The survey was conducted across nine industries in three regions—Asia, the EU, and the US. The best performing industry was the financial services industry in Asia with a DAI score of about 60. In both the EU and US, telecommunications was the leading industry. Particularly interesting was the strong performance in Asia of certain industries that are lagging elsewhere. Consumer companies in Asia rate their digital maturity higher than they do in the US and Europe. “This was our first year including Asia in our survey, and the Asian companies came out strong. Their digital maturity across industries is high compared with global peers,” says Michael Ruessmann.
Digital Champions Achieve Breakthrough Performance in Three Key Ways
The study identified three boosters that champions rely on to become digitally mature. First, they spend over 5% of OPEX on digital projects. Notably, the share of US champions investing at this level (90%) is substantially higher than peers in Asia (75%) and the EU (65%). Champions everywhere also tend to devote more than 10% of their employees to digital roles and digital projects. Here, Asian champions (54%) are slightly ahead of US peers (51%) and more noticeably ahead of EU (44%) peers. This workforce focus helps Asian companies score highest for “new ways of working.” Finally, champions also scale up digital solutions more broadly than laggards and aren’t as likely to get stuck in use-case pilots. “After three years of conducting our survey, these digital boosters have been consistent, and have reliably helped to set champions apart,” says Michael Grebe.
Digital Champions Have Sharp Investment Focus
Champions plan to grow their digital workforces and spend more on upskilling their workforces than laggards. The study found that three out of four champions plan to grow their digital workforce more than 20%. Looking through a regional lens, over 90% of champions in Asia plan to grow their staff at this rate, while EU and US champions are less ambitious—70% and 65%, respectively.
But champions also have an internal focus. Half of champions plan to upskill more than 20% of their staff with digital capabilities, while fewer than a third of laggards do. Interestingly, champions invest 22% of their total digital investment in technology/IT, while laggards spend 16%. But this incremental investment contributes to a much higher DAI score in technology/IT, 78 DAI vs. 29 DAI, and implies that the gap between champions and laggards is likely to grow.
Asian Champions Are Leading the Way in Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Globally, around half of champions dedicate more than 10% of the digital workforce to AI, while a substantially smaller number of laggards (29%) do so. Asian companies have the most people working on AI. The study found that twice as many Asian companies dedicate more than 10% of their digital staff to AI compared with the EU and US. Asian companies are also further along in AI adoption, with 87% of Asian companies having some level of AI adoption vs. 78% in the EU and 74% in the US.
An infographic related to the study can be viewed here.
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