Is your organization a champion of digital disruption -- or just an observer?

A new report shows that only a minority of companies are reaping true rewards of transformation.

Video: Digital transformation explained

Less than one quarter of organizations understand that a commitment to digital is at the heart of true transformation, and it's those organizations that are reaping rewards from digital disruption, according to a new survey from technology consulting firm Infosys.

Also: Building a digital transformation strategy

For its report, The New Champions of Digital Disruption: Incumbent Organizations, Infosys commissioned independent market research company Feedback Business Consulting to survey more than 1,000 senior executives worldwide from March 2018 to April 2018.

The research identifies three clusters of respondents based on the business objectives behind their digital transformation efforts: Visionaries (22 percent), which understand the potential of the digital revolution to completely transform their business; explorers (50 percent), organizations that commit to digital programs driven by the need to enhance customer experience; and watchers (28 percent), which see digital transformation through the prism of efficiency.

Watchers and explorers are mainly focusing on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and 3D printing for digital transformation initiatives, the report said. Visionaries are not only looking at emerging technologies, but are also focusing strongly on core areas such as mainframe and enterprise resource planning (ERP) modernization.

"Visionaries believe that true transformation comes from the core, and without this in the background digital technologies will not perform to their potential," the study said. Their commitment to modernizing from the core will yield benefits such as improved productivity and efficiencies, the report noted.

Also: Digital Transformation: A CXO's Guide

The visionary organizations also watch and explore futuristic trends that currently escape the notice of the other types of organization. They have increased clarity on opportunities and threats of digital disruption over explorer and watchers, as well as an increased ability to execute on them.

These enterprise are willing to look further into the future and attach a higher rating to the impact of market drivers such as emerging technologies (86 percent, compared with 63 percent of explorers and 50 percent of watchers) and changing ecosystems (63 percent, compared with 39 percent of explorers and 31 percent of watchers). This enables visionaries to be agile and disruptive, the report said.

Building digital skill sets is the most common barrier to digitilization, cited by 54 percent of the respondents. So, it's not surprising that more than half of the organizations ranked a focus on digital skill set as the most important factor in successful transformation. That was followed by senior leadership commitment and change management.

Transforming from a low-risk organization to an organization that rewards experimentation (43 percent) and lack of change management (43 percent) were the second- and third-most commonly mentioned barriers. The study said this highlights the turbulence and resistance to change associated with digital transformation.

Also: The 5 biggest challenges to digital transformation TechRepublic

"Visionaries have a much broader plan to tackle their challenges that includes building alliances in their ecosystem and acquiring digital native firms, besides the usual practice of working with a transformation partner and building internal capabilities," the report said. "Compared to the visionaries, a much smaller proportion of explorers and watchers have a plan, which mainly revolves around working with partners and building in-house capabilities.

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