Slow and steady wins the digital transformation race

A survey shows that while many Canadian execs feel like they're lagging, it takes time to see ROI.

Most Canadian business leaders believe the tortoise, not the hare, will ultimately win the digital transformation race.

That’s according to a recent survey by Coleman Parkes Research for consultancy Wipro Digital that polled 1,400 c-suite leaders, including 220 from Canada. It found that only 14% of Canadians surveyed felt they have been “very successful” with corporate digital transformation. Despite believing their organizations are lagging behind now, 82% of Canadian respondents also believe companies that started digital transformation journeys later than rivals still have a chance to not only keep pace, but pull ahead of those currently at the front of the pack.

While most public companies are mainly judged on their quarterly financial results, long-term digital transformation is a marathon, not a sprint. Indeed, the report found only 18% of Canadians leaders surveyed saw measurable business results from digital transformation in less than six months, while 26% saw change within six to 12 months and 54% said it took one to three years to see a measurable return on investment. While ROI takes time to achieve, none of the Canadian respondents waited longer than three years to see measurable results from digital transformation efforts.

Most respondents had goals tied to driving growth, including accessing new markets, increasing revenue, increasing agility, speed to market and cost reductions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, in Canada – where smaller budgets lead to executives being more risk-adverse – nearly three-quarters of those surveyed described the degree of disruption from their digital transformation as being only modest or moderate. Fewer than one in five said they intend to be “new and disruptive” in their digital transformation program.