It can be hard to connect the dots between digital adoption and business performance. That’s why this report from Capgemini Consulting and the MIT Center for Digital Business, called “The Digital Advantage: How Digital Leaders Outperform Their Peers in Every Industry,” may be useful. It is two years old, but it does that rare thing — quantify a direct connection between “sexy digital applications” and cold, hard, bottom-line performance.

They define digital leaders — those with “digital maturity” — as “a combination of two separate but related dimensions.” Those dimensions are “digital intensity[, or] investment in technology-enabled initiatives to change how the company operates” and “transformation management intensity[,or] the leadership capabilities necessary to drive digital transformation.”

The study categorizes organizations (nearly 400 worldwide) on a matrix along those two axes (digital intensity vs. transformation management intensity), dubbing each quadrant:

  • Fashionistas (lots of digital, not much management)
  • Conservatives (not much digital, lots of management)
  • Beginners (not much of either)
  • Digirati (both digital and management)

Put simply, digitally mature companies — “the digirati” — invest money in tech AND invest time and effort into a top-down commitment.

After studying all of the organizations, they learned three things:

  • A digital strategy can be mapped from patterns of successful firms.
  • Every industry already has digitally mature competitors.
  • Digitally mature companies are, statistically, significantly more profitable.

So: it’s not only possible to learn by example, but necessary.

The report parses out the extensive findings in great detail, from the risks and benefits of being in each quadrant to much more. They review the financial characteristics of each type of company: their ability to generate revenue, profit and achieve a higher market valuation. Several case studies from wildly different industries help support their points.

Some of the findings may surprise you, though what may be unsurprising is that the MIT consultants found pharma to be the industry with the least digital maturity:

“Executives see threat in digital transformation but less opportunity than other industries do, perhaps because of regulation. Many are building capabilities in analytics and worker enablement, but most firms are just beginning their digital journeys, leaving many opportunities untapped.”

The full report is available free of charge, well worth a read, and also worth referencing in your new plans and projects for the year ahead. Our industry is conservative but pragmatic. From lab findings to clinical trials, numbers matter — and when we can prove that digital efforts help our companies be more effective and profitable, that’s important. The more data we can share on the utility of digital marketing efforts, the more we can bring these offerings to help our patients and physicians.