Tuesday, May 11, 2021

CEOs and Tech: An Executive-Level Digital Divide

It’s hard to argue digital technology’s transformative effects. Yet according to a report from MIT Sloan Management Review and IT services and consultancy firm Capgemini, businesses are struggling to capitalize on technology trends like mobility, social media and analytics.

And the problem starts at the top.

A mere 38 percent of the 1,559 executives and managers surveyed by MIT and Capgemini for the report said that their CEO’s agenda included digital transformation as a permanent fixture. This puts top executives largely at odds with their workforces.

Seventy eight percent of respondents said “achieving digital transformation will become critical to their organizations within the next two years,” stated the report. Further, 63 percent dinged their organizations on their slow approach to technological change. A “lack of urgency” was the most commonly stated reason why businesses are dragging their heels on implementing new technologies.

Only 36 percent of CEOs have shared their vision for digital transformation. Encouragingly, for those CEOs that shared their vision for modernizing their IT operations and processes, they gained the overwhelming support of their employees (93 percent) while a whopping 73 percent strongly agreed with the sentiment.

Age may be playing a role in a CEO’s reluctance to steer a new technological course.

“Responses to the survey suggest a deep-rooted perception that older people will have trouble reframing,” said the report. “Bill Gates may be 58, and Gordon Moore of Moore’s Law fame is 84, but there’s still a perception that older people are technophobic, and older managers don’t want to deal with technologic change.”

Respondents described management as “dinosaurs” and “old people” aged 55 and above that fail to grasp technology’s benefits. On the other side of the coin, MIT and Capgemini floated the possibility that “younger people haven’t seen the pile of bones built up from myriad obsolete technologies.

“Older executives and managers need to understand that their age can undermine faith in their ability and interest in leading digital transformation, and develop approaches to make it clear that they want to see transformation occur,” concluded the report.

Ultimately, many businesses are missing out on opportunities to deliver enhanced customer experiences and improve their operations. And the longer they wait, the report suggests, the farther organization will be from achieving those benefits.

Only 15 percent of respondents were classified as digitally mature — essentially able to leverage new technologies to improve their businesses. Sixty-five percent ranked as beginners.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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