Obstacles faced by digital leaders may be putting non-tech organizations at risk, new Amrop report finds.

As the battle to implement digitization in non-tech organizations intensifies, Amrop's new report sheds new light on the experiences of C-suite digital leaders on the frontlines of change. Weaknesses emerge in four key areas: organizational context, the attitude of boards, the role itself, and digital leaders’ confidence in their own competencies.

The Organization: Digital leaders have an uphill struggle. 45% report a lack of dynamism and speed.

They are blocked by fragmented, complex organizational structures, difficulty identifying key stakeholders, and a diffuse strategy. Around a third face questions regarding ROI - 50% say the focus is on financials rather than the future, with a general lack of realism or patience. Four digital threats are considered ‘high or extreme’ by one in four: processing data meaningfully, digital risk, regulatory delays and customer frustration.

The Board: Words not met by action: only 33% of digital leaders are truly supported or resourced.

Boards prioritize digitization, say 69% of digital leaders, giving space and listening to their input. However, only a third really agree that their boards assign enough resources, or ensure digital initiatives are put into a process. Only 28% truly believe their boards fully understand the meaning and scope of digital. The focus is (too) often on operations, or the customer interface.

The Role: Care needed beyond the honeymoon. Only 18% of digital leaders get a mentor or coach.

Digital leaders have a good start on joining organizations: 80% encounter an inspiring role profile. Two thirds have an easy decision to join, and are matched (at least on joining) with key stakeholders. But only half really feel well-informed by their onboarding process, or helped to have a quick impact. And only one in five receives a senior mentor or coach.

The Competencies: Digital leaders generally confident. But only 26% are fully up to date with security.

Amrop has built the core skillset for Chief Digital Officers and equivalents into a Digital Competency Model, comprising 4 dimensions and 16 indicators. Inviting C-suite digital leaders to self-rate reveals 13 areas in which under 40% feel fully confident. And only one in four feel fully competent or confident in four key digital areas: defining commercial performance indicators, risk management, talent management and security.

“This report highlights the pressure points of digital transformation in non-tech organizations,” said Job Voorhoeve, Leader of Amrop’s global Digital Practice. “In a confusing arena, these insights will enable boards and digital leaders to identify clear avenues for action.”

About the study

159 C-suite digital leaders from mainly EMEA countries and multiple sectors responded to an in-depth survey: Digitization on Boards, 3rd Edition. 53% had a global span of control. 90% identified as Chief Digital Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer, Chief IT Officer, or Independent Board Member/NED.

Read the report here.

About Amrop

Amrop advises organizations in the domains of Executive Search, Board and Leadership Services. With over 60 offices around the world, Amrop supports companies in identifying and positioning ‘Leaders For What’s Next’: top talent, adept at working across borders in markets around the world.