Why Only 1% of Non-Execs are Digitally Literate

Is your organisation populated with the right digital talent to perform in a digital age?

Well, a new study has revealed that some of the biggest companies in the UK may not be. In this article we’ll look at how important digital experience is for decision making in an increasingly digital landscape.

A Digital Landscape

We live in a digital age, and to reap the benefits of the new landscape, organisations must undergo a digital transformation. This means new management methods, a rethink of traditional HR models and acquiring the right talent with the necessary skills for growth.

It also means that digital experience is vital at a decision-making level for innovation and transformation.

“Organisations must be built to change, which in most cases requires rethinking and redesigning the organisation completely”

Jason Hathaway

Unfortunately, though, a new study published in the Financial Times has revealed a serious skills-gap at the higher levels of companies, and particularly around the boardroom table. There is a shortage of digital skills in Europe in general, but studies have shown a noticeable lack of the necessary digital experience among decision-making non-executive directors in Europe.

A recent PwC Global survey of non-executive directors showed that while a majority recognise the need to champion new technologies to respond to the digital age, a miniscule 1% of non-executive directors in Europe’s top 100 companies have proven digital experience in areas like mobile, social media, big data, security and the web. Of the FTSE 100, only four are reported to have ‘serious’ digital experience on their boards.

Directors are aware of the need to keep pace with social media, content marketing, cybersecurity, big data, cloud computing and new management technologies, but few posess the necessary skills or experience to deliver this. Digital experience at a non-executive level can be a strong, objective influence on an organisation’s digital transformation, and can offer a digital perspective to the decision-making process.

“a non-executive director with digital experience ‘can provide a sanity and security check at times of transition’”

Ashley Highfield, William Hill board member

A Talent War

Digital skills at a non-executive level are not enough to compete in a transformative technological business era. As firms recognise the value of digital skills in today’s marketplace, they are scrambling to acquire the top talent at all levels.

The shortage of the requisite talent means that those with the skills to lead digital transformation are in a strong bargaining position, and there is a talent war among top organisations for the right people:

“Some organisations are offering crazy compensation packages as they bend over backwards to attract these people”

Steven Zuanella, Chief Digital Officer at Zurich Insurance

Here at Next Ventures, we have access to that pool of top digital and tech talent and would be happy to discuss how we can source the right skills for your organisation. Let us help you thrive in the digital age.