The Seven Key Traits of Digitally Mature Organizations

Newsroom 16/02/2023 | 12:10

KPMG has recently issued its Global Tech Report 2022, in which global technology leaders share details of their progress on digital transformation and explore how to strengthen ongoing digital maturity. Because of the importance of the issue, for the first time, KPMG has widened the scope of its annual global CIO study to create the KPMG global tech report.

By Adela Ciucioi, Partner KPMG, Deputy Head of Audit, Head of Technology, Media and Telecom


The report involved a survey of more than 2,200 technology executives and a series of in-depth discussions with industry experts to uncover the technology strategies businesses are using to help outsmart their competitors. Amid today’s challenging economic conditions, the good news is that KPMG’s latest global tech report finds a resilient, forward-looking attitude among global technology professionals. Companies are enthusiastic about disruptive new tools and determined to further embrace ongoing digital transformation to enhance the customer experience. However, continuing challenges for tech executives include cyber security threats and talent shortages.

One of the key elements to the survey is KPMG has identified seven key traits of digitally mature organizations. These traits work together to optimize the output of IT, ensuring digital-transformation efforts are sustainable and continue to add value and contribute to loyalty-winning customer experiences in the long term. We will look at each trait in detail.

The first identified trait is that digitally mature organizations tear down silos so the voice of the employee can be heard between departments. Tech investments aim to improve the customer experience but can be less successful if they fail to incorporate feedback from key stakeholder groups. So successful businesses bring employees from different parts of the company more closely together to create a holistic approach. For example, cyber, procurement, IT and business functions will communicate, plan and implement in a coherent way. This spirit of collaboration lives on through the daily operations of digitally advanced businesses. As IT expertise is increasingly required across various business functions, routine cross-departmental collaboration and education allow business and IT employees to resolve misunderstandings and gain clarity on each other’s perspective. This healthy dynamic enhances team productivity and can more easily identify opportunities to improve customer experiences.

The second trait is that digitally mature organizations are part of the solution for the talent crisis. The most successful businesses are working to solve this problem by widening their perspectives to expand their universe of talent. Outreach programs with colleges and universities can educate and inspire individuals approaching entry-level jobs to develop the most in-demand skills. At the same time, mature businesses ensure their staff feel supported in their professional growth. Managerial skills and effective strategies by the HR function can be critical. It can be helpful for employees’ growth and also their sense of wellbeing in the organization if they have access to mentoring from a range of experienced colleagues beyond their immediate manager, as this will enable them to develop a broader range of skills. Moreover, automation of some low-complexity, high-volume tasks can not only help reduce the talent shortage but also enable employees to focus on more engaging tasks.

Another key trait of successful organizations is to build airtight alignment between cloud stakeholders. Stakeholder misalignment can be a major impediment to the effective use of the cloud. Different parts of the business have different objectives in relation to the cloud and without effective coordination this can lead to a disjointed approach in which the benefits of the cloud are not fully realized. For example, misalignment can often occur due to differences between the IT team’s vision of how cloud capabilities should be enabled and the cloud priorities of other business departments. Many Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) even say that stakeholder misalignment is a bigger cloud challenge than security and compliance requirements. Digitally mature organizations are working to close this gap, for example by appointing a dedicated head of cloud who considers the requirements of each stakeholder group and creates a unified strategy to fit the needs of the business as a whole.

The fourth key trait of digitally mature organizations is that they ensure cyber specialists have early involvement in tech selection and staff education. They have understood that cyber security is not simply about compliance and protection against threats. Developing a strong reputation for cyber security can also enhance profitability. A key element is to make sure that CISOs engage in early-stage discussions about how and where a technology is going to be used, and what this means for customer experiences. Moreover, CISOs in mature organizations will also play a critical role in staff training. Close involvement by CISOs can mean that the business can move forward with developing new technologies with greater confidence that the appropriate safeguards are in place. The critical role of the CISO is highlighted in KPMG’s 2022 cyber report, Mission: Trust. How to unlock the true value of the CISO.

Another key trait is to allow the voice of the customer to guide emerging-technology strategies. To retain customers and market share, companies must continuously improve their digital capabilities

and think differently about how to use technologies to meet, and exceed, expectations. This means constantly evaluating whether technology selection and workflow design is aligned with customer needs and expectations. Digitally mature businesses direct their emerging technology investments towards capabilities that have the potential to deliver the outcomes that are of most value to customers. Hence they win customer loyalty as well as placing themselves in a better position to increase their customer base. Of course, it is impossible to make exact predictions as to how successful a new technology will prove to be with customers, but a mature organization will nevertheless focus resources on trying to understand customer desires and behaviors and hence consider which technologies could support these areas.

Digitally mature organizations are also prepared to switch platform providers to enhance customer experiences. It can appear simpler to find one platform, or at least a reduced stack of enterprise technologies, which will meet business needs. However, this can be a disadvantage if it means the organization fails to take full advantage of new technological developments. So even though it is a complex skill to master, the ability to move between platforms is becoming increasingly important for digitally mature businesses. The enterprise needs to be open to having a spread of systems from several providers, and this means technology leaders have to be committed to ensuring the infrastructure of enterprise platforms is highly integrated, delivering effective interaction points in customer experiences. Application programming interface (API) integration should be assessed carefully to avoid creating silos that introduce fragmentation into customer journeys.

Finally, digitally mature organizations are not afraid to experiment wisely, and make sure that success does not create an overly protective or perfectionist culture that stifles innovation and growth. This means having transformation and investment strategies which can be adapted and moving away from traditional investment frameworks that are structured to achieve benefits only at the very end of the initiative. Instead, objectives can be achieved on the way to the final goal and this can mean that even if the initial investment strategy is superseded, there can still be gains. Moreover, a successful development strategy will have enough flexibility to allow for the possibility that some avenues may lead to dead ends. Overall, a vibrant culture of experimentation, which can bring innovation, will also build in enough space to allow for the failure of some ideas.

A well planned strategy to gain the benefits of technology and pass these on to customers can be critical to business success, particularly in times of economic uncertainty. We will continue to observe the behaviors of digitally advanced companies and will present our findings in future editions of the KPMG global technology research series. Meanwhile, we invite you to enhance your company’s resilience and performance by considering these the seven traits of today’s digitally-mature organizations which we have identified.

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