New research from Gartner has concluded that CEOs in 2016 are putting digital initiatives and transformation before all else. No longer is digital a word you hear coming from the depths of the IT department, it’s a top priority of CEOs and business leaders.
Although soft-skills, like communication and punctuality, will always be needed to succeed in any industry, it is now a prerequisite that employees are tech savvy. Whether it’s healthcare, government, telco or retail, digital skills no longer make your CV stand out. They’re simply expected.

In ‘2016 CEO Survey: The Year of Digital Tenacity’ by Gartner, 400 senior business leaders, including CEOs and CFOs of billion dollar companies, were surveyed around the topic of digital transformation.

“Those CEOs who see that the digital future is going to happen inexorably will protect digital initiatives and will cancel or cut other things instead,” explained Gartner fellow Mark Raskino, who conducted the survey.

Regardless of whether you’re a startup or enterprise, bootstrapping or scored first-round funding, digital is currently the most cost effective and customer-centric way of connecting with your market.

The businesses leading innovation in the digital age aren’t just those born during the digital boom, like as Google and Facebook, the likes of GE and Nike have also successfully revamped their operations and strategies to become digital leaders.

Aside from being the world’s leading digital industrial company, GE is heavily investing in their digital division. Victor Abate, GE’s Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President explains, “When you make [digital] connections right, you can make products faster, you can help your customers be more competitive.”

In 2016, Nike promoted their first global Chief Digital Officer, a brand new position developed for digital innovation. The sportswear manufacturer annually generates over a billion dollars through its e-commerce channels and is expecting business investments to increase by $7bn over the next four years.

Nike President and CEO Mark Parker explained in Retail Info Systems that: “digital is an accelerator throughout Nike… It drives how we connect with consumers, how we serve them and how we engage with one another.”

Timeliness, quality consulting and the right team can have a major impact on the success of digital integration and innovation.

Back in 2011, Borders Book stores learned this first hand. As e-books, e-commerce and digital music began taking off in the early 2000’s, Borders outsourced and incorrectly invested in already outdated technology. Anytime you visited Borders.com you were redirected to Amazon.com, they had barely no advertising for their ebooks and failed to anticipate the shift from CDs to digital. Partly as a result of this, borders filed for bankruptcy in February 2011.

At the same time that Borders was filing for bankruptcy, Dymocks, their largest competitor at the time, was signing a partnership with Google for e-books. With 60+ physical stores throughout Australia, selling over 10 million books last year, the company holds the title of Australia’s leading bookseller.

Australia is now among the most excited, innovative-minded nations in the world, according to the 2016 GE Global Innovation Barometer. Internationally, over 65% of executives and 72% of the general public are ready to embrace digital transformation. Although 94% of executives consider disruptive innovation the way of the future, many opt for a ‘safe option’ for now.

Iterative technological integration, with the assistance of digital consulting specialists, is a great way to future proof your digital business transformation and ensure you have the right expertise driving the mandate forward.