For most people, the “digital divide” represents the gap between those who have access to information and communications technologies and those who don’t. It deals with socioeconomics, infrastructure, fairness, and opportunity. Although that digital divide is certainly not to be taken lightly, another one is emerging in the world of business. This new digital divide is the widening gap between businesses that understand how to drive true value from new digital technologies, and those that don’t.
While companies in the technology and software industries certainly understand how to “be digital,” the story is different for the other 90%+ of businesses in the economy. For them, only a relative minority “get” digital. “Digital mastery matters,” said George Westerman, Research Scientist at the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE). “It matters in every industry. And any company can build the DNA of digital masters if its leaders have the will to do so.”
Westerman, along with Didier Bonnet, Senior Vice President at Capgemini Consulting, and MIT IDE Principal Research Scientist Andrew McAfee, studied more than four hundred global firms to understand how they transformed their organizations through digital technology. These businesses include some surprising—and some less surprising—names, including Asian Paints, Burberry, Caesars Entertainment, Codelco, Lloyds Banking Group, Nike and Pernod Ricard. Westerman, Bonnet, and McAfee call these companies “digital masters.” They present these visionary organizations, along with an extensive step-by-step transformation playbook, in their forthcoming book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation.