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Digitisation held back by short-sighted boards

Boards are throwing up roadblocks to increasing the digitisation of their organisations even in the face of the pandemic, claim C-level digital executives.


Some 70% of respondents to the fourth edition of ‘Digitisation on Boards’, a study by global executive search and leadership consultancy Amrop, felt their boards were paying lip service to digital strategy.


The research compared the perspectives of 58 C-suite or board-level digital leaders from fast-growth organisations, mainly in Europe, with their low-performing equivalents and came up with some alarming findings.


Among them that only 30% of respondents felt their board understood the challenges of their role or supported them in carrying it out.


The majority (60%) also reported ‘digital impatience’ and a lack of realism when it came to digital initiatives, with a similar number saying they were being blocked by the short-sightedness of their board, which they felt had not given enough thought to the transformation of business models via digitisation.


The findings were particularly surprising given the study took place at the end of 2020, after a year in which the pandemic forced digitisation to the forefront and was widely understood to be critical to short- and long-term business growth.


Nevertheless, of those surveyed, 50% felt their organisation continued to focus on current revenues, paying relatively little attention to any future benefits that could be gained by digital investment.


“Whilst digitisation is named as a priority for boards in the organisations we surveyed, board literacy and understanding are only on the starting blocks. Board members must be willing and able to transform the business model, focus on the innovation that drives customer value and understand the global impact of digitisation. If this understanding is absent in a board, it must be installed as a priority, even if that means taking some painful decisions,” commented Job Voorhoeve, Leader of Amrop's global Digital Practice.


He added: “Digital executives deserve support in making the business case to boards in a clear and compelling way. In turn, boards should be in no doubt of their role in igniting an organisation’s ability to harness the power of digital for transformation and growth.”


Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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