New research highlights the “Knowing” and “Doing” digital gap

Stephen Chapman's picture

A new study has highlighted big differences between knowing how to be digitally effective versus how UK businesses are actually approaching digital development.

It was commissioned by Manchester’s Code Computerlove and showed that there is a gap between businesses knowing what drives digital effectiveness and current digital practices.

Some of the findings:

  • 97% of the digital decision makers in UK businesses questioned believe that focusing on user needs leads to better outcomes
  • 97% agree cross-disciplinary teams drive the best results
  • 94% said that senior leadership support and buy-in is vital when creating digital products/experiences
  • 96% agree team learning and reflection is a necessity for digital transformation
  • 92% said long term versus short term goals are more likely to be more successful
  • 88% agree Agile approaches are more likely to be successful than traditional ones (e.g. waterfall)

These answers didn’t necessarily match the same respondents’ digital practice.

While 97% believed that user-centricity leads to better outcomes, only 65%  said that they put user needs at the heart of their development.

Again, while the same percentage supported cross-disciplinary teams, in reality just over 70% said they were actually doing this.

On team learning and reflection, the 96% “knowing” compared to just half of respondents “doing”.

This was replicated across the survey.

The study also found that 56% of those questioned left testing to the very end of a project; and only 51% can attribute ROI to specific digital projects.

“While our survey was primarily designed to show levels awareness around Product Thinking, a mindset and approach to digital product development, it was striking to see the difference between what companies think will help them drive digital effectiveness and what is happening within their businesses,” explained CEO of Code Computerlove, Tony Foggett.

“There is clear consensus that digital approaches need to be customer-centric, agile and data-driven, all principals that fall into the Product Thinking mindset that we implement. But all business – whether they are out performing their competition or not – seem a way off actually truly embracing these techniques.

“The survey also highlighted that while most companies agree what the basic principals of a digitally transformed business are, it is the EXECUTION that makes the difference between best performers and the rest. The gap between thinking and doing is much smaller for top-performing companies than it is for their mainstream counterparts.”

Foggett believes the mismatch is down to the degree a business can change its business culture.

“While agreement with the principals of a digital-first organisation is all but unanimous, the majority of businesses still have cultures that can best be described as retrograde,” he continued.

“While it’s impossible to prove that it’s the implementation of these Product Thinking ideas that is responsible for ‘success’ in the top performing businesses the correlation is extremely strong. In organisational culture, management approach, development philosophy, every area of business practice we looked at showed the firms who acted on the product philosophy were more likely to be successful.”

The survey questioned just under 500 companies about their attitudes to digital effectiveness and digital practices.