Big Data & Digital Technologies Transform Businesses but Lack Capabilities

According to McKinsey’s first annual survey on the topic, most C-level executives say that the three key trends in digital business are big data and analytics, digital marketing and social-media tools, and the use of new delivery platforms such as cloud computing and mobility. These form the strategic priorities at their companies. However, they also report some tough challenges. Nearly half of respondents say their companies’ investments in digital initiatives are too small to deliver on their goals.

The surveyed executives have high expectations for the potential value their companies can generate from the three trends, and one-third even expect digital business to increase operating income by more than 10 percent over the next three years.

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Big data purposes

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In the figure above you can see that the focus of big data in relation to their purpose varies greatly. The biggest focus is on using big data for customer insights, segmentation and targeting. The STP (Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning) process will be iteratively informed by bottom-up, emergent big data. It takes out the second guessing and provides data driven inspiration and validation of a route.

Yet, the survey reports, just one-fifth say their organizations have fully deployed data and analytics to generate insights in one business unit or function; only 13 percent use data to generate insights across the company.

Social technologies, narrow scope of application

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When asked about specific uses of social technologies, a slight majority say their companies use them to improve customer engagement, while fewer have deployed these tools internally or with business partners.

In a world where everything goes faster and faster, better information is gained when all stakeholders are involved. The reach out to customers is the beginning, but for fast iterative changes, all stakeholders need to be involved in a relevant way.

Value generation

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The above figure is confusing. Executives say they have outperformed competitors in their use of big data and analytics than in applying any other trend. Data and analytics are –partially- generated and extracted from social tools, technologies and delivery platforms.

The challenges

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For businesses to become succesful in designing and implementing technologies, they need to do four things right:

  • Aligning IT strategy with with business objectives
  • Building internal capabilities
  • Tailoring the organizational design to operations
  • Create the right culture of sharing, accountability and learning

The above mentioned challenges all fit within these four categories and the most significant ones can be found in the organizational design segment.

How do you think the lack of capabilities should be solved?
What results are the most surprising to you?

By Gianluigi Cuccureddu

About the author:


Gianluigi CuccuredduGianluigi Cuccureddu, contributing editor, is an experienced writer specializing in innovation, open business, new media and marketing. He is Managing Partner of the 90:10 Group, a global Open Business consultancy. They help clients leverage social media as business accelerators to generate faster, better and cheaper business output. Social media integration is the new secret ingredient to achieve sustainable competitive advantage in delighting the clients’ customers while continuously driving their cost down.

  • ela_bednarek

    It is striking to me that no one has mentioned social media within the context of internal communication, employee engagement and team collaboration. Digital natives are starting their careers. I can’t really imagine how companies are going to teach them the old ways of doing things.

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