Digital Maturity: A Short Introduction

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Digital maturity is an important part of running a business in today's digital space. Being able to properly use digital technologies can help a business to grow tenfold, reach a wider audience, and be able to respond to the market more quickly and easily. But what is digital maturity, and how can an organization improve it?

What is Digital Maturity?

Digital maturity is an important assessment of business processes that measures an organization's ability to create value through digital transformation. This measurement is typically a clear predictor of whether a business will be successful when using digital technology. The more digitally mature an organization is, the better it can quickly respond to and take advantage of opportunities in the market based on digital technology. A business with high levels of digital maturity will have a competitive advantage in multiple performance areas, such as revenue growth, cost efficiency, product quality, and customer satisfaction.

What is a Digital Maturity Model?

A digital maturity model (DMM) is used to assess a company's current level of digital maturity. This can help an organization form a roadmap to help reach digital maturity goals, create a plan for growth, and measure its success in implementing its plans. There are many types of digital maturity models that businesses can use to measure their digital maturity levels. In fact, a single business may use different digital maturity models for different aspects of the company, such as one for sales, one for IT, and one for manufacturing.

There are three main types of digital maturity models: general, detailed, and industry-specific. A general model can be great for applying to a variety of businesses because it does not require the use of industry-specific markers for measuring success. One of the most popular digital maturity models is a general model created by Google and the Boston Consulting Group that measures an organization's effectiveness and efficiency on a graph.

Detailed digital maturity scales are a bit more specific and refined than a general model, but can still be applied to a wide range of industries. These models will measure various aspects of a single business to get a better picture of what areas might be less digitally mature than others. If an organization wants something more detailed than this, an industry-specific maturity model may be the best solution. These models are created for specific industries and help to measure aspects of businesses in a single industry that other industries do not have to consider when it comes to digital maturity.

The Importance of Digital Maturity

Digital maturity is an important part of successfully integrating into today's digital space. Businesses with higher levels of digital maturity often have better offerings, processes, marketing abilities, adaptability, and culture. Digital maturity is a must-have in the modern business space in order to stay ahead and grow as an organization because successfully using digital technologies can significantly improve what a business is capable of and make day-to-day processes quicker and easier.

The Four Stages of Digital Maturity

When an organization works towards increasing its levels of digital maturity, it must go through digital transformation processes. As organizations implement these processes, they typically fall into one of four stages. These stages can help organizations determine where they fall along the scale and what they can do to improve their digital maturity.

1. The Incidental Stage

Organizations in the incidental stage may be executing some activities that support digital transformation, but are not doing so intentionally. These results do not come from any specific strategy. In this stage, there is little to no digital transformation awareness or planning. This stage is purely coincidence, and intentional planning needs to be made in order to maintain and improve from this point.

2. The Intentional Stage

During the intentional stage, a company will plan and implement intentional strategies that support digital transformation. This stage is typically seen early on in a digital transformation journey, so the processes may not be streamlined or automated yet. At this point, the organization has embraced digital transformation, but efforts are underdeveloped and have not yet been implemented in all company processes. It is important for an organization's leaders to use this time to find areas for improvement in order to fully integrate into the digital space.

3. The Integrated Stage

Once an organization has successfully implemented many activities that support digital transformation, it is said to be in the integrated stage. Activities that support digital transformation are executed with high levels of strategic intent and are mostly well-coordinated and automated. During this stage, transformative efforts have been taking place long enough that the business will be able to see the impact these efforts have had on the success of the organization as a whole. The organization has successfully transformed into the digital space and is able to see the results.

4. The Optimized Stage

After the integrated stage, all other steps towards digital transformation lead businesses closer to the optimized stage. This stage is hard to reach, and most organizations that have made it to this point are typically the ones setting the standards that other organizations follow when it comes to digital transformation. In the optimized stage, new technologies seamlessly blend into the organization's current processes. Digital transformation is a key component of how companies in the optimized stage function at their core.

How to Improve Digital Maturity

In order to improve digital maturity, an organization must first determine how digitally mature it currently is. A good first step is to consider where your business falls in the four stages of digital maturity. This is also a good time to do an initial assessment using a digital maturity model that you can compare results with in the future to see how your business is growing digitally. Consider what digital transformation steps you have already taken and how they have worked so far.

Next, create short-term and long-term plans for improving digital maturity, and start small. Trying to attempt too much at once can overwhelm your business. Start with easy transformations before attempting more complex ones. Think of these first initiatives as a test run for larger-scale digital transformations. As your business begins to successfully integrate these smaller processes, slowly continue to make larger integrations. While you do this, evaluate frequently by considering the stage of digital maturity your business is in and where it falls on the digital maturity model you have chosen, Comparing how you are doing along the way allows you to assess how the digital transformation process is going. Use this data to measure your success and optimize processes, and you're well on your way to improved digital maturity. 

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