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Digital technologies, such as cloud computing and mobile applications, have the potential to transform fundamentally the way businesses operate. Companies realize they must go digital and are increasing their spending on technology accordingly.

Despite such increased investment, most companies have not fully taken advantage of newer digital technologies. In fact, the survey shows many companies still tend to see IT as operationally helpful but not a strategic differentiator. The survey also shows that many companies haven’t made the links across their organizations that would enable technology to empower the business. However, nearly half of respondents expect their organizations to become even more digital, integrated and collaborative going forward.

Some companies have made the leap: The survey identified 41 “digital leaders” — enterprises that, according to their executives, are entirely digital across all major functions. Digital leaders enjoy several key benefits. They are more often globally integrated than other companies and much more often effective at sharing information across functions and regions. The majority of executives at digital leaders view IT as crucial to meeting their companies’ strategic goals. And digital leaders’ executives also more often report higher financial performance: 37% of their executives indicate that their fiscal performance was much higher than competitors’ in the past fiscal year, compared with just 11% of respondents at other companies.

As businesses seek to become more digital, they must overcome a number of challenges, including, executives expect, constrained budgets and a lack of qualified talent. Companies intent on developing an IT strategy for the fully digital future could gain valuable insight from the approaches that have worked well at digital leaders.