Brands and businesses recognize the urgency of a successful digital transformation—and while many are tackling the implementation and execution, new research from global digital transformation specialist The Keenfolks reveals that nearly three-quarters of the world’s companies are struggling to calculate the ROI of their digital transformation spend.
The firm’s new study, Digital Gap 2021, shows that while the vast majority of companies have accelerated digitally during the pandemic, many still face considerable challenges, including data shortages, a lack of investment in marketing technology and the relentless change in consumer habits.
One of the key themes of the study is the use of concrete information, and the challenges many companies face in accessing and analyzing it.
When asked whether their company can track and calculate digital ROI effectively, only 27.7 percent said yes.
Furthermore, 60 percent of business leaders surveyed believe their company does not generate enough data—and only 32 percent agreed that they know how to use their data in a meaningful and actionable way.
It appears that the changes catalyzed by the pandemic, such as a rise in e-commerce, are making it even harder for brands to read their customer base. In fact, 55 percent of executives believe it is increasingly difficult for their company to keep up with the evolution of consumer behavior.
Yet despite all the evidence surrounding the effectiveness of marketing technology, nearly 50% of executives said that their company has yet to establish a strong MarTech stack and strategy, or establish automation processes for marketing activities.
The main barriers to MarTech, automation and data implementation are a lack of competencies, poor awareness of customer data tools and platforms, lack of internal data talent, and inability to manage a consumer database without the aid of a strategic partner.
Encouragingly, however, it seems most companies have started to move in the right direction.
Seventy-five percent of firms say their digital acceleration has increased since the start of global lockdown restrictions in March 2020, indicating that many businesses have used the pandemic as a stimulus for positive change.
Furthermore, 70 percent say that digital customer experience is a priority for their company, and 73 percent believe that AI will be an important part of their business vision in the short term—indicating an openness to leading-edge innovation.
U.S. leading the way
When asked to rate their company’s digital maturity on a scale of 1 to 5, the average score was 2.87. However, the responses varied significantly by region. U.S. companies rated their digital maturity highest at 3.3 and European companies the lowest at 2.7.
Furthermore, the U.S. has the highest level of competition for customer experience. On a scale of 1-5, U.S.-based executives gave the highest average score for competition (3.2), ahead of Europe (2.9).
The technology industry is the most competitive industry for customer experience (3.4) and pharma is the least competitive (2.7).
“We are in a rapidly evolving world where trends in consumer digital adoption, expectations, preferences, and buying behavior have changed at a faster speed than anyone could have predicted,” said Miguel Machado, CEO and co-founder of The Keenfolks, in a news release. “As a result, the digital gap is bigger than it was pre-pandemic. But many executives have realized that successful companies of today and tomorrow will be those that prioritize innovation and really move quickly to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.”
“The past 18 months have been difficult for companies all over the globe,” added Xavi Cortadellas, chief growth officer and co-founder of The Keenfolks, in the release. “Our report findings show that companies are more aware of the challenges they face, but there are still significant barriers that need to be overcome.
“As much as digital transformation is about technology, it’s also about culture. Business leaders need to take ownership and put the right people, processes, and culture in place to be able to solve problems for the company and improve the lives of consumers.”
The firm surveyed over 100 multinational C-suite executives. The study responses are drawn from Europe, the U.S. and Latin America and cover the technology, pharmaceutical and consumer-packaged goods (CPG) sectors.