May 21, 2012 – Some CIOs and IT departments are missing the mark with innovation and executive engagement, which threatens new sources of revenue and competitive advantage, according to new survey results from McKinsey & Co.

The aspects of digital business intelligence in McKinsey’s survey surround big data, analytics, digital marketing and social media tools, and the use of mobile and cloud platforms. When asked their top corporate priority, executives picked big data (9 percent), digital marketing and social tools (8 percent) and mobile and cloud platforms (6 percent), and all three areas were in the top 10 of priorities for a majority of organizations in the survey. Sixty-six percent of executives expect these tech initiatives to make a positive uptick in their operating expenses within three years, McKinsey reported.

On the strategy and implementation side, more than half of the executives in the survey stated that their CIOs are “supportive and directly engaged” in moving forward with new digital initiatives. Conversely, 25 percent of those executives surveyed said CIOs were “not engaged at all.” With IT in general, McKinsey found that only 14 percent of executives categorized IT as leaders in new digital business plans and only 39 percent of IT actively engage or support those initiatives.

At organizations where IT leadership was deemed active in engagement and sponsorship of new digital business activities, 44 percent reported that they expect to capture more value from the new business tech than their competitors. That number dipped to 24 percent for organizations where the CIO was considered more passive in their approach.

There were some familiar obstacles when it came to the top two challenges behind strategizing and implementing on these new fronts. More than half of respondents noted that their organizational structure was “not designed to take advantage” of these rising digital priorities, and 51 percent remarked that they have a lack of IT infrastructure to handle the new plans.

McKinsey’s Brad Brown, a director, and Johnson Sikes, a consultant, suggested in the report that broader organizational strategy and development may be needed to address this mounting wave of tech trends. In addition, Brown and Sikes noted that organizations will have to be resourceful in finding outside talent or consultants in these emerging fields, and they encouraged the development of in-house skills.

“[T]raditionally siloed functions (for example marketing, product development or IT) could obstruct a dynamic approach to digital business that requires speed and flexibility to create the most value. Also required is a new approach to managing talent by utilizing flexible team structures, engaging outside collaborators and increasing corporate tolerance for failure,” the report authors wrote.

Its first report on key trends and strategies in digital business, McKinsey’s “Minding Your Digital Business” report was based on responses received during April from more than 1,400 C-level executives from a range of global industries and sizes. Click here to download a PDF of the report.

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