Earlier this week, Brian Solis announced the release of Altimeter Group’s second report on Digital Transformation. The report was developed on the back of a survey carried out over the last year.

Altimeter describes their goals for the report/survey as:

1) to unearth where companies and supporting teams are in their metamorphic digital transformation efforts

2) also to capture a current snapshot for future comparison.

To begin with, it’s important to specify exactly what we mean by ‘Digital Transformation’. The report defines Digital Transformation as: “The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touch point in the customer experience lifecycle.”

Onto the findings, the report confirms that a whopping 88% answered yes when asked; ‘Is your organisation undergoing a formal digital transformation effort in 2014?’ with only 10% saying no and a further 2% confirming they did not know.

This seems to be good news for digital progress, but when checked against the next question it seems that either a large proportion of that 88% aren’t as far along as we might like to think.

Only 25% had mapped out the digital customer journey. 42% said they had not ‘officially’ researched the digital customer journey, but have updated digital touch points with new social and mobile technologies and investments. A further 12% said they are researching customer behaviour now and awaiting results, while another 12% confirmed they had talked about the need to do so, but no one had taken the lead. Finally, 3% said the need to do so hasn’t come up or been made a priority.

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As part of the survey, digital strategists were asked to help rank the most important digital transformation initiatives they were pursuing. These were confirmed as:

1) Improving processes that expedite changes to digital properties, i.e. website updates new mobile or social platforms, etc. (80%)

2) Updating website and ecommerce programs for a mobile world (71%)

3) Integrating social, mobile, web, ecommerce, service efforts and investments to deliver an integrated and frictionless customer experience (70%)

4) Updating customer-facing technology systems (66%)

5) Further research into customer digital touch points (63%)

6) Overhaul customer service to meet the expectations of digital customers. (46%)

Respondents were also asked about the challenges they face on the road to digital transformation.

Company culture (63%) came out on top, and through my own experience I can relate to the narrow minded approach of more traditional operators being a severe hindrance when working with organisations of all types in relation to embracing digital, and looking beyond it as a channel. I believe this issue is mainly routed in fear of change.

Additional challenges facing digital transformation include:

– Thinking beyond a campaign mentality (59%)

– Cross-functional collaboration (56%)

– Resources (56%)

– Understanding digital customer behaviour (53%)

– Securing executive support (42%)

Finally, Altimeter, also looked at the top 5 benefits of digital transformation, and these results show that where time and resource is applied, real results are realised:

1) Lift in customer engagement (75%)

2) Improved customer satisfaction (63%)

3) Higher digital traffic (53%)

4) Increased lead gen/sales (49%)

5) Greater conversions (46%)

It is refreshing to see real progress in digital transformation rather than just lip service. However, as the qualifying questions confirm, digging beneath the surface usually exposes promising feedback as perhaps a little exaggerated.

The road to digital transformation can be long and rocky, but the willingness to engage on the journey must be seen as a positive. We now need to educate digital transformers to enable them to identify the leaders and skillsets they require to make their digital objectives a reality.

You can download the full report here

“The State of Digital Transformation” also features expert voices as part of Altimeter Group’s previous qualitative research, including Sephora, Starbucks, Westfield, Ford, GM, LEGO, Discover, Intuit, Nestlé, Univision, a multinational financial services business, a multinational CPG company, and an American pharmaceutical company, among others.