Running After Digital: Dell Study Shows Barriers To Success

If you believe news reports, the main revelation from Digital Transformation Index II, a study by Dell Technologies, is that a third of firms worldwide don’t trust their firms to comply with GDPR. 

But there are other equally alarming statistics in this report — for example, that the same fraction doesn’t trust their companies to safeguard customer data. In fact, they view data privacy/security as the top barrier to progress. 

Even worse is their general gloom about the digital future.

Of the firms surveyed, 51% believe they will have to struggle to meet changing customer demands within five years. And 49% believe they will struggle to prove themselves trustworthy in the same time frame.  

A third fear that they will be left behind.

Dell Technologies and Intel surveyed 4,600 business leaders around the globe.  It found that the majority of firms are indeed behind the curve. Only 19% saw themselves as digital adopters in 2018, and a mere 5% saw themselves as digital leaders — the same percentage as in 2016. 



Another 33% self-identified as digital evaluators and 30% saw themselves as digital followers. And 6% considered themselves digital laggards. Granted, that number has declined by 6% since 2016.

Emerging markets are more mature, with India scoring 58 out of 100, Brazil 56 and Thailand 55. In contrast, North America earns a 51. The bottom three are France (38), Denmark (38) and Japan (29).

But there are signs that companies are waking up from this sluggishness.

Businesses worldwide are investing in technology. The first spend is on cybersecurity — 58% are putting money into it. Second is the Internet of things technology (46%), followed by the multi-cloud environment (44%) and artificial intelligence (40%).

Only 21% are investing in blockchain, but 47% believe they will transact via blockchain in five years. In addition, 77% believe they’ll utilize  emerging technologies to predict customer demand and manage resources.

And 68% think they will use new tech to improve supply chain transparency, traceability and efficiency.

To help them get there, 46% plan to teach all employees how to code, and 44% hope to teach business skills to IT leaders and IT skills to business leaders.

What’s holding them back? The top 10 obstacles are:

  1. Data privacy & security concerns
  2. Lack of budget & resources 
  3. Lack of the right in-house skills sets and expertise 
  4. Regulation & legislative changes 
  5. Immature digital culture
  6. Lack of the right technologies to work at the speed of business 
  7. Information overload 
  8. Lack of senior support & sponsorship
  9. Lack of a coherent digital strategy & vision 
  10. Weak digital governance and structure

That list of concerns is a little different than the one cited in 2016 — in that happy pre-GRPD era, lack of budget and resources was the No. 1 hurdle. Data privacy and security was fifth.  

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