The foundation that sets digitally mature organizations apart from all others is a culture that welcomes change. Over time, these orgs have learned how to thrive by focusing on innovation, iteration, and disruption.
Optimized organizations have put in the time, effort, and resources needed to make employees feel empowered. We believe their ability to quickly adapt and scale comes from establishing cultural movements, often from the top-down, that push employees to innovate and try new ideas. Our survey reveals that 83% of employees in Optimized organizations are encouraged to continually learn and test new ideas, but only 27% of those in the Limited group feel this way.
We also found that employees within Optimized organizations feel much more autonomous. 63% of the Optimized group report a sense of autonomy in their work, while only 44% of the Limited group feel this way.
Many organizations still run on inefficient processes and manual work that lead to error-prone data. Why? Because they continue to do things the way they’ve always been done.
Why do organizations struggle with workflow automation? You may think that lack of budget and IT resources are the problem, but these were low on the list. What rose to the top? “This is the way it has always been done.” In fact, 59% of respondents in the Limited stage reported this being their biggest struggle with advancing workflow automation.
One in three organizations also stated that a reliance on legacy technology limits their ability to improve their workflows. This indicates an inability of technology to adapt and change to address business needs.
A similar trend emerges when we look into why organizations continue to rely on paper forms and documents: 34% say it's because this is the way it has always been done. If we segment the responses by digital maturity level, it becomes clear that inertia—a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged—is one of the biggest reasons digital transformations stall within organizations. We see that 24% in the Limited stage don’t see a reason to change, and 57% state they continue using paper because it’s the way it has always been done.
When an organization’s leadership is satisfied with the status quo, innovation and advancement are stifled. Many respondents shared feelings of being limited in their ability to digitize their workplace because of their organization’s mindset. When asked what keeps them reliant on paper workflows, respondents said things like:
Why do organizations get so stuck doing things the way they’ve always been done? Perhaps they don’t have enough information. Our research shows that organizations lower in their digital maturity lack the ability to track important data. Leadership in these less mature organizations may believe there’s no reason to change because they don’t have the data to surface issues. This lack of visibility could create a false sense that things are working efficiently.
Optimized organizations understand the benefits of tracking data across different business functions and systems. We found that these orgs track three of the four categories we asked about at a higher level than orgs in all other maturity stages. For instance, 80% of Optimized organizations track which manual processes need to be automated, compared to only 22% of those in the Limited stage.
There’s also a secondary issue at play: The less digitally mature an organization is, the more likely it is to minimize the importance of tracking data. In fact, nearly one in three Limited organizations report data tracking as not important.
As organizations advance their digitization efforts, they begin to track more and more systems, processes, and business outcomes. This data visibility clearly plays a role in helping organizations identify inefficiencies and prioritize digitization efforts.