Most Important Factor for Digital Outcomes? Senior Management Buy-In

McKinsey-Top-Factors-Influencing-Digital-Biz-Initiatives-Sept2013What factors have contributed to the success – or failure – of past digital initiatives? C-suite executives asked this question were most likely to cite senior-management interest or desire to change practices as a top-3 factor of success, according to a recent McKinsey & Company study. Lack of senior management buy-in was also the top factor contributing to the failure of such initiatives. Considering that respondents separately indicated that CEOs are taking a more active role in new digital initiatives, that’s a positive sign for future efforts.

After senior management buy-in (32%), the most commonly-cited factors of success also were managerial: internal leadership (30%); alignment between organizational structure and initiative’s goals (21%); and good management of and sufficient organizational support for the initiative (also 21%).

By contrast, the leading factors of failure (after senior management buy-in – 23%) were the lack of technology infrastructure and IT systems (22%) and quality data (21%), although the absence of internal leadership also ranked relatively highly (17%). Those results imply that not only is senior management buy-in necessary to avoid failure, but so is cooperation with the IT department. But, a recent study from Accenture suggest that such collaboration is fraught with obstacles, with 44% of CMOs surveyed saying there is no need for alignment with the CIO, indicating that there’s more work to be done on this end.

Other Findings:

  • Among the 5 digital business initiatives examined in the McKinsey survey (digital engagement of customers, big data, digital engagement of employees, automation, and digital innovation of products), digital engagement with customers was deemed to have the biggest potential value to companies.
  • 40% of respondents expect to allocate at least 2% of their total cost base to digital business initiatives this current budget year, with that figure highest (54%) among North Americans respondents.

About the Data: The online survey was in the field from April 2 to April 12, 2013, and garnered responses from 850 C-level executives representing the full range of industries, regions, and company sizes; 8.6% of these executives have a specific technology focus. To adjust for differences in response rates, the data are weighted by the contribution of each respondent’s nation to global GDP.