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“Digital transformation is no longer a choice, it’s an essential driver of revenue, profit and growth,” states digital solutions provider, SAP.

Last year in a report, SAP highlighted the poor state of digital transformation efforts around the world.

The study of over 3,000 senior executives from 17 countries found a significant level of variance between the best companies and those lagging behind. Read more:Unleashing Africa’s next generation of digital innovators

The leaders of the most successful companies at digital transformation tended to have the following key characteristics.

Firstly they viewed digital transformation as a business project, not a technology project.  Some 96% of the best digital leaders regarded digital transformation as a core business goal, and this manifested itself in the way the company behaved towards customers, suppliers and partners.

“Executives need to move from simply understanding the high stakes, to activating complete end-to-end execution across their business.  This requires innovative breakthrough technologies, investing in digital skills, and retraining the existing workforce. The next two years will be a key inflection point, which will separate the digital winners from those left behind.”

Digital transformation in 2018

Forbes cited the latest report on the state of digital transformation by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital which indicated that slow progress is being made.

It revealed that the number of companies reporting that their digital transformation projects are at a developing or mature stage rose by three and five percentage points respectively.

“This year’s study shows that executives across industries and around the world are investing in the digital maturity of their organisations,” the authors say.

“Digitally maturing companies in particular are developing their digital talent at both leadership and employee levels and creating conditions that will enable the organization to experiment, learn, and collaborate in the marketplace.”

“Education can no longer be viewed through the traditional lens that implies learning only happens in a formal classroom or training setting,” the researchers say.

“Companies across the board—even those that are showing significant digital progress—should better orchestrate new ways of learning on and off the job that encourage continuous education and allows individuals’ skills to keep pace with the rapid rate of technological change.”