Hands are Tied for Heads of Digital Transformation

Data can be an enterprise's best friend or worst enemy.

Being able to collect, analyze and leverage customer and organizational data across channels and departments can help organizations make better decisions in nearly every area from disrupting their current business model to delivering personalized customer experiences in real-time. Without a database to support agile and scalable use of that information, however, those heading "digital transformation" in their enterprise are held back regardless of ambitions, internal and external pressure to keep up and millions of dollars already spent on projects. 

New survey results released today from Couchbase of 450 heads of digital transformation for enterprises across the U.S., U.K., France and Germany paints a bleak picture. Despite, on average, organizations spending $5.67 million on digital innovation and transformation projects in the last 12 months (see image), 84 percent of respondents have had digital projects canceled, delayed or reduced in scope because of the limitations of their legacy database (95 percent are using one or more legacy databases such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, MySQL, etc.).
While technology is an easy scapegoat, one can see how difficult it would be to replicate an industry disruptor, which is often a startup building its technology infrastructure from scratch and deploying a mobile-first customer experience. In fact, aside from lack of resources, the complexity of using multiple technologies and the reliance on legacy database technology top the factors holding back digital decision-makers' ambitions to use data for new digital services in their organization (across all countries surveyed).
All of this "will they, won't they, can they" chatter around digital transformation is making folks uneasy. In fact, 73 percent of these IT decision-makers believe they could be fired as the result of a poorly implemented or failing digital project. What's more, 54 percent believe organizations that don't keep up with digital transformation will go out of business or be absorbed by a competitor within four years.

The good news here? Organizations are working on modernizing their customer experience, the most important identified benefit of digital innovation/transformation projects. Yes, across the board respondents are frustrated with database agility, performance and reliability, but roughly 40 percent of respondents across the countries represented can use their data in real-time (with the U.S. reporting higher numbers) - that's huge. Still, there's work to be done.

"Our study puts a spotlight on the harsh reality that despite allocating millions of dollars towards digital transformation projects, most companies are only seeing marginal returns and realizing this trajectory won't enable them to compete effectively in the future," said Matt Cain, CEO of Couchbase. "With 87 percent of IT leaders concerned that their revenue will drop if they don't significantly improve their customers' experiences, it's critical that they focus on projects designed to increase customer engagement. Key to succeeding here is selecting the right underlying database technology that can leverage dynamic data to its full potential across any platform and deliver the personal, highly responsive experiences that customers are demanding today."