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MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital global study finds workers ready to leave companies not keeping pace with digital change

Study finds need to develop a more aggressive digital culture to retain senior level executives and employees.

Cambridge, Mass., July 26, 2016—More than half of employees surveyed at less digitally developed companies are ready to leave their organizations in less than three years, according to a new study released today by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital. The fifth annual Digital Business Study also found that approximately one-third of SVPs, VPs, and director-level leaders surveyed who do not have adequate access to resources and opportunities to develop and thrive in a digital environment expect to depart their company in less than one year.

The study, “Aligning the Organization for Its Digital Future,” examines the digital transformation habits of “digitally maturing” companies and what sets them apart from “digitally early stage” companies. Among the key findings of this year’s study is the significant number of employees and executives who are prepared to leave companies that are falling behind in their digital transformations.

Based on a global survey of more than 3,700 business executives, managers and analysts from organizations around the world, the study also found that digitally maturing organizations place a decisive emphasis on recruiting and developing their workforces:

  • More than 75 percent of these organizations provide their employees with resources and opportunities to develop their digital acumen compared to only 14 percent of digitally early stage companies.
  • In addition, 71 percent of digitally maturing companies surveyed are able to attract new talent based on their use of digital technologies, while only 10 percent of their early stage peers can.

Evolving to compete in an increasingly digital world, as well as retaining top talent, is about more than implementing additional and better technologies. The report found that digitally maturing companies have organizational cultures that share common features, including an expanded appetite for risk, rapid experimentation, heavy investment in talent and recruiting, and the development of leaders who excel at soft skills.

– Deloitte Digital's Doug Palmer, co-author of the report and principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

In fact, only 18 percent of respondents listed technological skills as most important. The skills needed to lead companies in the digital era, according to the survey respondents, include having a transformative vision (22 percent), being a forward thinker (20 percent), having a change-oriented mindset (18 percent) or other leadership and collaborative skills (22 percent).

Additional analysis of this year’s study found three distinct cultural mindsets that relate closely to corporate stages of digital maturity. Some characteristics include:

  • Low appetite for risk: This mindset is common among early stage digital organizations. In addition to being risk adverse, early stage companies tend to have a hierarchical leadership structure, conduct work in silos, and make decisions based more on instinct rather than hard data.
  • Experimentation and speed: Conversely, digitally maturing companies value experimentation and speed, embrace risk, and create distributed leadership structures.
  • Collaboration: Digitally maturing companies also foster collaboration and are more likely to use data in decision making.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents surveyed from digitally maturing entities indicate their companies are actively engaged in initiatives that bolster risk taking, agility, and collaboration. For early stage companies, the number falls to 23 percent.

“What this tells us is that developing a digital culture may require significant shifts in corporate behavior,” said Gerald (Jerry) Kane, guest editor at MIT Sloan Management Review and associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management, Boston College and co-author of the report. “To navigate the complexity of digital business, executives should consider aligning their organizations’ cultures, people, structures, and tasks to advance their companies’ digital congruence strategies.”

"Many companies are responding to an increasingly digital market environment by adding roles with a digital focus, or changing traditional roles so that they have a digital orientation. The list of ‘digital’ business roles and functions is extensive and growing,” says David Kiron, executive editor at MIT Sloan Management Review. “What stands out, and what our research shows, is that nearly 90 percent of digitally maturing organizations are integrating their digital strategies with their companies’ overall strategies.”

The MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital business study is based on findings from the fifth annual global survey of more than 3,700 business executives, managers and analysts from organizations around the world. The survey, conducted in the fall of 2015, captured insights from individuals in 131 countries across 27 industries, including organizations of various sizes. Digital maturity was measured by asking respondents to “imagine an ideal organization transformed by digital technologies and capabilities that improve processes, engage talent across the organization and drive new value-generating business models.” Respondents then rated their company against that idea on a scale of 1 to 10. Three maturity groups were observed, “early” (1-3), “developing” (4-6) and “maturing” (7-10).

To read and download the full report, please visit MIT Sloan Management Review.

About MIT Sloan Management Review
A media company based at the MIT Sloan School of Management, MIT Sloan Management Review's mission is to lead the conversation among research scholars, business executives and other thought leaders about advances in management practice, especially those shaped by technology, that are transforming how people lead and innovate. MIT Sloan Management Review captures for thoughtful managers the creativity, excitement, and opportunity generated by rapid organizational, technological and societal change.

About Deloitte Digital
Deloitte Digital is creating a new model for a new age—a creative digital consultancy. That means bringing together all the creative and technology capabilities, business acumen and industry insight needed to help transform our clients' businesses with digital. With Deloitte Digital's end-to-end capabilities, clients bring their biggest challenges, knowing we've got what it takes to bring a new business vision to life. Let us show you how. Visit Deloitte Digital or follow us on Twitter @DeloitteDigi_US or @DeloitteDigital.

Media contact

Heather Graubard
Public Relations
Deloitte
+1 206 214 8698

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