Companies are advancing in their digital maturity, and new ways of learning and leading are helping drive the change.

My colleagues and I at Deloitte Digital just completed our seventh year researching digital trends with MIT Sloan Management Review. Each year we assess how companies are adapting their organizations to a digital environment. Today, we’ve released findings from our 2018 study Coming of Age Digitally: Learning, leadership, and legacy, based on a survey of more than 4,300 managers and executives globally. Key among the findings is that companies are making meaningful progress on their digital journey.

For the first time since we began measuring organizational digital maturity four years ago, our research shows a notable uptick in the digital maturity of companies surveyed. Fewer companies are in the early stage of digital disruption, while an increasing number of companies are now in the developing and maturing stages. As more companies advance, the rest are getting the message: Adapt your organization to stay competitive. Companies are becoming more serious about digital transformation and to do so, they are evolving how they learn and lead at both individual and organizational levels.

  • It’s not just having digital leaders that’s important. Maturing companies are actively developing these leaders, something that sets them apart. Most respondents to our survey acknowledged their companies need new leaders to compete successfully in a digital environment – even respondents from digitally maturing companies. Yet, unlike companies in the early or developing stages, digitally maturing companies make it a priority to develop their leaders to succeed. Our survey results showed digitally maturing organizations were more than four times more likely to be developing digital leaders than those early in the digital journey. These findings highlight an opportunity for all companies: committing to the development of its leaders is something every company can begin to do regardless of where it may be in its digital transformation.
  • Organizations need to build an environment that supports experimentation and learning. The digital business environment is fundamentally different than the traditional one. Those we surveyed indicated that the pace of business, a flexible culture and mindset, and a distributed workplace were among the biggest differences between digital and traditional business. Companies are under pressure to learn faster to be able to adapt to the changing environment. Digitally maturing companies help their organizations learn by fostering conditions that enable experimentation. Experimentation and iteration are two specific ways companies respond to digital disruption. They alone, however, are still not enough. Companies should use the results of those experiments ― successes and failures ― to drive substantive change across the organization.
  • Employees need support to develop new skills. The fast-paced, ambiguous digital business environment demands advanced skill sets for employees as well as leaders. Employees we surveyed indicated a pressing need to update their skills, with 90 percent indicating they need to update their skills at least yearly to work effectively in a digital world. Nearly half of those individuals feel that they need to update their skills “continuously” to be effective in their jobs. Yet, organizations may be falling short in helping employees acquire the updated skills they seek. Only a little more than a third of respondents say they are satisfied with how their organization is helping them prepare for working in a digital environment. To advance digitally, companies need to recognize the importance of helping their employees better learn and adapt in a rapidly changing workplace.

Before your company can become more digitally mature, it is important to understand how mature you already are, and how that maturity is exhibited throughout your organization. To learn more about digital maturity and how organizations are advancing digitally, read the full report Coming of Age Digitally: Learning, leadership, and legacy

Dr. Doug Palmer is a principal in Deloitte Digital, Deloitte Consulting LLP, working globally with leading firms to establish digital strategies and to implement digital experience platforms that give them competitive advantage in their engagements with customers, business partners, and employees. Doug leads Deloitte’s research on Digital Business with MIT Sloan Management Review which is focused on understanding how businesses advance and mature in a digital world. He can be reached at