What’s the Connection between Digital Maturity and Innovation?

Making the best use of digital technology supports innovation tremendously. We use digital technology every day to manage aspects of our lives that aren’t digital, such as ordering prescription refills, booking a ride, or even ordering fast food so it will be ready when we arrive.

Happy couple looking at a phone smiling.

Likewise, companies that innovate more and innovate better embrace technology. A 2019 study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte found that 81 percent of digitally mature companies believe innovation is essential to their success. They innovate more, and they innovate better than companies that are less digitally mature.

Digitally Mature Companies Innovate More and Better: Here’s Why

Digitally mature companies are more likely to embrace innovation and support it through cross-functional teams and through partnerships with external organizations. Moreover, employees at digitally mature companies feel freer to innovate and tend to have the resources and support they need to do so.

Cross-functional teams can be amazingly effective at innovating solutions to problems, and digitally mature companies are likelier than non-digitally mature teams to use cross-functional teams. They’re also likelier to give those teams considerable autonomy, to evaluate them as a unit, and to support them from the highest levels of leadership.

Partnerships with external organizations are also more common innovation resources for digitally mature companies. Two companies may collaborate to achieve shared goals, with each bringing relevant expertise to the table.

The Stages of Digital Maturity

What does “digital maturity” mean? Doesn’t everyone use technology? Yes, but the ways in which technology is incorporated into company operation differ based on the level of digital maturity. Justin Grossman, CEO of meltmedia, defines four levels of digital maturity:

  1. Incidental – where organizations claim to support digital transformation and may have some activities that support it, but where technological integration tends to happen incidentally and not by strategic intent
  2. Intentional – where companies support digital transformation through strategy in limited ways. In other words, these organizations embrace digital transformation, but their strategy is not yet mature and is not streamlined.
  3. Integrated – where companies have well-coordinated digital transformation strategies, which have been in place long enough to demonstrate benefits, and where the senior leadership understands and supports digital transformation as a core need
  4. Optimized – where organizations undertake all digital transformation efforts strategically, and where the efforts are streamlined and coordinated, with new technologies being added and integrated easily. These organizations are rare.
Group of people discussing a project together.

How to Assess Your Organization’s Digital Maturity

Knowing how digitally mature your organization is can help you understand how you may be limiting your innovation technology and your innovation strategy itself. Answer the following questions to assess your digital maturity level:

  1. Do our digital campaigns drive real business growth?
  2. Do our digital tactics give us a strategic advantage over competitors?
  3. Are new innovation technologies efficiently and purposefully integrated into our organization?
  4. Do we have methods for evaluating outcomes of integrating new innovation technology?

Understand your digital maturity level now, set goals for improvement, and envision the advantages of technology to your innovation efforts and you can align your organization with those that take full advantage of digital technology to fuel innovation. The fact that digital maturity facilitates things like cross-functional teams and external collaboration is all the more incentive to pursue greater digital maturity.

Digital maturity and innovation go hand-in-hand. Digital maturity is also associated with practices like the development of cross-functional teams and external collaboration partnerships that elevate the level of innovation. Pursuing digital maturity with a clear strategy not only works to improve performance and efficiency, but it improves innovation efforts as well. For more inspiration, we invite you to download our disruptive innovation infographic.

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