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As digital technologies dramatically reshape industry after industry, most organizations are pursuing large-scale changes to capture the benefits of these trends or keep up with competitors. New Relic, in partnership with Vanson Bourne, led a survey of 750 global senior IT leaders at enterprises with 500 to 5,000 employees in the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, and the United States.

The study found that enterprises are making progress despite obstacles. IT leaders within these companies are finding that their digital transformations lead to significant challenges, such as increased pressure to prove the business value of said transformations. Interestingly, almost 50% of the global respondents admit that problems in their software are more likely to be discovered by their customers than by their own teams.

Drivers of digital transformation

From banks to retailers, donut shops to automotive manufacturers, even traditional business-to-business industries such as suppliers of construction materials are transforming the buyer’s journey along a digital path.

Our survey revealed that, overall, business leadership and the C-suite understand and support digital transformations (47%). Satisfaction levels are increasingly high, with 90.7 % of respondents saying that the results of their transformations either met or exceeded their expectations.

These findings are promising and show that executives are willing to embracing new technology; in fact, on the journey to digital transformation, more than half believe that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will make their roles easier.

While the general sentiment on AI and ML is still up for debate across various industries, nearly 88% of our respondents agree that artificial intelligence and machine learning are essential to how they run their digital systems.

Additionally, according to nearly 75% of the business leaders surveyed, migration to the public cloud is at the core of any digital transformation. Almost half of the respondents (46%) agree that cloud migration provides necessary benefits, but 54% believe that cloud computing does not offer the efficient resource usage it promises.

So, many are harnessing the power of the cloud and AI to fuel digital transformations despite implementation obstacles, but they still recognize that those challenges must be addressed.

Ease the burden of digital transformation and customer experience

Global organizations are indeed making significant digital leaps, but undertaking a full-scale digital transformation isn’t easy—especially for long-established companies not traditionally associated with software innovation. Our survey found that such organizations all face similar challenges:

  • Disjointed teams: During transformation, not all parts of the organization move at the same speed. When teams and employees are stuck between using legacy systems and new technology, collective progress is held back and interoperability issues arise. Overall, 37% of global respondents identified disjointed teams as one of their top challenges.
  • A shortage of skilled employees: According to 35% of respondents, one of the biggest challenges they face is finding the right employees with the right skills to drive their digital transformations. Additionally, if employees feel that a new technology makes their work harder, not easier, they resist its implementation. Training workers to understand how a new technology will ease their workload is of utmost importance for leaders who want to reduce the stress of their teams.
  • Restricted budgets: 47% of technology leaders in our survey said their No. 1 obstacle is restricted IT budgets, followed by resistance to shut down or sideline legacy systems. More than a third report that they do not receive adequate support from non-tech leadership.

Lead the next phase of digital transformation

Whether or not an organization has already begun a digital transformation, at New Relic we believe that it’s important for all teams to think critically about the ways in which a digital transformation could affect their businesses, both in the near and long term. Before embarking on a digital transformation, organizations need to answer two critical questions:

  1. What business outcomes do we want to achieve for our customers?
  2. What skills do we need to keep up with a transformation, and with our competitors?

While the challenges that attend a digital transformation vary, the survey indicates that teams who observe and act on insights from data collected throughout their systems will have a far better chance to truly scale and realize the benefits of modern technological advances.

It's inevitable that organizations need to adapt to changes in technology. But assessing why those changes are necessary, keeping the customer in mind, and preparing themselves for challenges along the way is the path to building the foundation they need for a successful digital transformation.

Learn more about the findings in the full press release: Global Survey Reveals Key Challenges and Technologies Expected to Drive the Next Phase of Digital Transformation.

new relic digital transformation survey infographic