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Delivering Digital

An Acid Test for Competence in Digital Innovation

Three questions executives should ask of themselves to determine whether their digital transformation is making a difference.

In this era of digital disruption, CTOs in charge of leading digital market innovation are measured by many yardsticks. Ultimately, though, all of the questions they’ll be asked by the board tend to boil down to, ‘Are we being innovative enough?’

“It’s always a good idea to understand where you’re at, what you need to measure, and what kinds of gaps may be out there that are inhibiting you from being successful,” says David Ackerman, research vice president at Gartner.

The quickest “acid test” for executives rolling out new products or services into the digital marketplace, Ackerman says, consists of three simple questions:


Question 1: Are You Feared in the Market?

Fear from competitors is a natural consequence of having disrupted the market. They see you doing something they can’t do and wonder how they can keep up.

“Think about the shift from Walmart to Amazon in the retail space. First Walmart was feared—now Amazon is feared,” Ackerman explains.


Question 2: Can You Attract the Smartest People?

This is a bit of a chicken-and-egg question because to be innovative, a company needs smart people to pull it off. But at the same time, companies need to already be innovative to attract the cream of the crop.

“Highly talented people look for innovative companies to work at where they can contribute, too,” Ackerman says.

Question 3: Do Your Customers See You as Innovative?

So many digital transformation initiatives today are centered around customer experience because, ultimately, customers are the arbiters of what is innovative enough. And they judge that with their wallets.


While this acid test is hardly scientific, it does provide a quick barometer as to how much work an organization really has left to go before it can truly label itself innovative.

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