An overwhelming 98 per cent of Australian companies believe digital is important to their success, but many admit they lack the confidence to achieve their digital goals, according to new research.
The Australian Company Digital Confidence report found that only half of the companies surveyed for the report believe they can deliver on their digital ambitions, while fewer than 40 per cent know where they want to go in the digital space.
The report also found that only 52 per cent of Aussie companies were confident they could execute their digital strategy.
Richenda Vermeulen, CEO of digital strategy agency ntegrity (which commissioned the report), said the results show that the country is suffering a digital confidence crisis.
“The research highlights something we’ve known for a long time – Australian businesses are experiencing digital distress, and this is due to poor confidence,” she said.
“Confidence is vital for driving digital success. Without addressing this issue, Australian businesses are set up for digital failure. They are lagging behind their high performing global counterparts.”
The study highlighted four key areas that companies can focus on to grow digital confidence: leadership support, digital vision, digital acumen and investment in resources.
Furthermore, the research demonstrated that support from the top was vital in bolstering digital confidence.
In companies where the CEO leads digital, confidence in digital strategy is 75 per cent, but it’s much lower when other roles lead the effort.
“When business leaders have an unwavering commitment to digital, it rallies the troops and builds trust,” Vermeulen said.
“It is vital that a company has a leader that can drive the digital conversation in the boardroom.”
Vermeulen added that while supportive leadership is imperative for digital success, it needs to be accompanied by other key factors, including a clear digital vision.
Alarmingly, the survey revealed a somewhat haphazard approach, with only four in 10 organisations having a digital vision statement.
“This means 60 per cent of Australian firms are not fully harnessing the power of digital to bolster sales, increase audience reach and enhance their reputation,” Vermeulen said.
“Digital aspirations can be difficult without a clear vision, but even then, a vision is just words on paper if insufficient resources are available to execute it.”
Fewer than four in 10 respondents felt there was sufficient resources and budget allocated to hit organisational goals.
“Lack of resources has led to what we call a ‘services swamp’, where digital staff are siloed from the rest of the business,” Vermeulen said.
“Many sit as an extension of the marketing team and feel as if they don’t have the power to make decisions or drive change.”
The survey also revealed significant under-investment in training in digital staff.
At least 70 per cent learnt on the job, with no formal training apart from university, industry courses and online training modules.
To help firms achieve digital transformation, ntegrity has invested in a training academy that offers a range of courses to digital professionals and industry leaders.
“The time is right to offer formal training to supplement the current on-the-job learning for Australia’s digital workforce,” Vermeulen said.
She also challenged organisations to create a digital vision and strategy to help shape their futures and increase their confidence.
“Once you have a vision and strategy in place, the operating model, culture and resources must adapt in order to reap the benefits,” Vermeulen said.
“We offer visioning workshops for our clients, as it is imperative they get this right.”