Master or Noob. How digitalised are (Belgian) companies?

Thought Leadership

Ludovic Nesse | 7 December 2021

Fastfwd Belgium, the initiative to help Belgian companies on their digital path has released the conclusions of the Digital Maturity scan performed over a wide range of Belgian companies. The assessment was based on McKinsey’s Digital Quotient, measuring companies’ digital maturity across the 5 below key areas and 32 management practices:

  • Strategy
  • Organisation & talent
  • Agile delivery & culture
  • Capabilities: data & technology
  • Adoption & scaling
McKinsey Digital Quotient Categories

More than 750 companies have participated to a Digital Quotient assessment globally, of which 77 Belgian companies from a variety of sectors. All detailed Digital Maturity Scan conclusions can be found on the Fastfwd website.

So, what’s the Belgian average?

The survey revealed that Belgian companies are slightly ahead in terms of digital maturity (39/100) compared with their global (34/100) and regional peers (33/100). However, the companies’ average is still below 50 which means that there is still much room for improvement, and with the pace of digital disruptions continuing to accelerate, their lead is not safe.

Belgian vs global digital maturity score

Fastfwd Belgium & McKinsey survey

When we look at the Belgian digital leaders (71/100) we see that they also score above the global average (68/100). So, why do we often look to foreign companies as an example and inspiration when our domestic leaders score better?

Why is the gap this big?

Companies don’t always have the necessary knowledge, in-house skills nor budget to improve their digital level. And something we often hear is ‘why change something that works’. Yes, it might still work now, but for how long? And aren’t you interested in the new opportunities and business acceleration this change will bring? Furthermore, in the long run, you’ll probably save money because you’ve started to work more efficiently and optimised your entire business and strategy. It all starts with the right mindset.

Are you not ready for the big change yet? Start small by using less paper and digitise as much documents as you can. There are tools like DocuSign and Adobe programmes which aren’t that expensive that can help you in this first phase. For those who are interested in receiving more tips, tricks, and quick wins, keep an eye on the Fastfwd Belgium website as they will share some in the upcoming year.

Digital Score Belgian leaders vs average

Now, what are the Belgian companies’ strengths and points of improvement?

To be able to improve, one must know what their strengths and points of improvement are. According to Fastfwd Belgium’s and McKinsey & Companies’ conclusions, Belgian companies are doing well in terms of strategy, technology and setting up ecosystems and partnerships. The Financial Services (FS) sector seems to be ahead in their digital maturity curve versus Infrastructure & Transport and Industrial & Consumer goods. One of the greatest FS sector strengths, is the effective structure and clearly defined roles for digital and analytical initiatives on which they scored 67% versus a Belgian average of all companies who participated to the survey of only 33%.

However, there are still a lot of opportunities for improvement on other areas. According to the results, Belgian companies are behind in terms of at scale adoption of data analytics, change management and talent strategy.

Belgian companies' points of improvement

Why is data so important?

How can you deliver tangible business benefits by harnessing the Power of Data? One of the key challenges for digital companies is to ensure a proper data management strategy so that data makes a significant impact on the company’s results. 90% of data that exists was created in the past 2 years and predictions expect even more massive volumes of data in our digital world. Driven by the rapid evolution of Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, data management is becoming a cornerstone for successful digital companies.

But where do you start? Firstly, understand your current data challenges. Secondly, confirm and align your Business strategy and Data strategy objectives. In this step you should define how the data services can support your Business Strategy. The next step is to assess the level of maturity that your organisation currently has with the different data components of your Data Management framework and expose the business benefits. Finally, you can develop a Strategic Data Management Roadmap and Target Operating Model with a detailed plan to implement it. But if you prefer to keep on focussing on your core business, there are companies like DTSQUARED who can support you in your data journey and create and implement the data strategies with you.

How can you use Change Management to maximise your business benefits?

Another fundamental criteria for a successful digital transformation is Change Management. To maximise the business benefits of your Digital transformation, applying Agile and iterative delivery methods are crucial to grow from first prototypes into incremental value delivery. These will require having relevant impact measurements, such as analytics-based metrics, to drive leaders’ decision making. Strong Change Management capabilities to support the transformation and value realisation of your digital products & services is also a necessity.

An issue we often encounter at (large) corporates is a lack of structured approach to increase adoption and secure the success of their transformation programmes. Continuous support is required throughout all phases of the stakeholder management transformation. This includes supporting the change ambassadors on rolling out a clear and consistent multi-channel communication plan and training and personalised coaching track. In the long run, you’ll see that Change Management is a great means to realise the transformation return on investment.  

And what about the available talent?

A third challenge is about hiring and retaining the talent and tech professionals required to deliver your innovation and digital agenda. According to the Federation of Belgian Enterprises Agoria, in 2019 there were 16.000 digital vacancies not being filled. This is expected to grow to 258.000 shortage by 2035. So, what is your Talent Strategy? At first you will need to attract and select tech talents with the right skills and competencies. And secondly, talent retention will depend on offering a career path and personal development for them to grow into top tech professionals and future digital leaders of the innovation of tomorrow.

If you find it hard to find the right talent, there are companies like Exellys who have experience and expertise in attracting, training and coaching young tech professionals. Through their personalised smart training programmes, focusing on both soft- and hard skills, they help talents grow faster so your organisation can grow quicker too. They are matchmakers and find the perfect fit between organisation and talent.

So, what did we learn from the survey?

Belgian FS companies have a solid foundation from which to compete in the digital age. The strengths of local digital leaders provide inspiring examples, and the benefits of more local knowledge exchange and collaboration across sectors is significant. To further increase their digital competitiveness, companies should consider coordinated action and finding the right partners that will bring best practices and excellence, accelerating and accompanying them into a successful digital transformation.

Meet Projective Group

Projective Group gathers diverse companies under one roof. All with their own complementary deep-domain expertise. This is how we are able to cover many of the biggest challenges Financial Institutions are facing today. Be it data management, cloud migrations, adopt new industry standards or project deliveries, we have our clients covered.

Capabilities Data: Analytics, models & tools – DTSQUARED & The Glue are the Projective Group’ data & platform experts. By harnessing the power of data they solve your business problems and will unlock tangible opportunities to drive significant impact.

Adoption & Scaling: Change Management – ::projective & Mastermind are the experienced Change consultants capable of running change and transformation programmes with the ability to translate technology to the human measure & connection. Their combination of Change expertise and strong Agile delivery experience will ensure you realise the benefits of your digital transformation.

Organisation & Talent: Talent Strategy – Exellys is our Tech Talent incubator. Through their training and coaching track they unburden their clients when it comes to finding and retaining tech talents including digital and analytics talent.

Interested to discuss this further? Drop us a line. We’re always up for a good chat.