Digital transformation payback possible, but a slog in some areas, according to PwC survey

As digital transformation projects mature (actually they never quite end) expectations about returns meet reality.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

There's a gap between what enterprises are expecting from their digital transformation efforts and actually getting, according to a PwC survey.

PwC surveyed 2,300 senior executives in 76 countries to gauge the progress of digital transformation efforts. Multiple companies see digital transformation as key to their survival as business changes rapidly on multiple fronts, but the returns are a bit tricky.

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Some key points:

  • 91% of respondents expected to create better customer experiences via digital efforts, but 71% said they actually realized value.
  • 90% of respondents expected to improve decision making via digital transformation, but 66% realized value.
  • 80% of respondents thought digital transformation would increase profits, but 45% did.
  • And 75% expected to improve talent retention and recruitment, but 49% did.

In many respects, PwC's findings illustrate a bit of maturity in the digital transformation space. Companies started out with big plans on the white board, but then realized that there are other moving parts in digital transformation projects such as change management, data quality and business support. Indeed, PwC found that 54% of companies have been in transformation projects for more than 5 years and 25% think the job will never be done.


Another issue for digital transformation efforts are that the component technologies change based on time frame. For instance, PwC found that robotics process automation, Internet of things and artificial intelligence were the top three technologies for today's digital strategy. For future strategy, AI, IoT and blockchain are the top three. IoT, AI and RPA were cited as the top 3 technologies for both customer and employee experiences.

As for the hurdles, 38% of respondents said cyber security and privacy were the biggest challenge for digital transformation projects along with a lack of skills in the market.  

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