What makes a company a digital champion ?


If there’s no doubt that digital ils the new Grail, what can make us say that a company is successful or, at least, or the right path ?

According to Altimeter, if 88% of organizations started their digital transformation journey, only 25% have a clear idea of what it means and have mapped their journey. That leads to an unavoidable question : what is digital transformation ? As a matter of fact, without any idea about the target, knowing if it’s been reached and measuring what is still to be done is impossible.

By the end of summer, famous french economic newspaper Les Echos issued its ranking of the Digital Champions among the 40 largest french companies(link in french). I’m not going to discuss the ranking itself since many already did but I’m going to focus on the methodology they used to try to find a framework to measure the digital maturity of an organization.


I have nothing to say about the results that’s not obvious. The gap between the more advanced ones and the laggards is huge but there’s no no obvious pattern to explain that : neither the industry or the size seem to be relevant factors. What is more interesting is how each factor weights on the final result : online presence and mastery of technologies are graded on 30, openness to the digital ecosystem on 15. I have no doubt that many subject matter experts were surprised to see that since the only thing everyone agrees on about digital transformation is the key role of culture.

Is it possible to underestimate culture when only 21% of french managers believe in digital ?

managers_impact_numeriqueSince we know, thanks to this study by Cap Gemini Consulting that only 21% of french managers and top managers think that digital will have a positive impact on the company’s performance (vs 55 to 60% elsewhere) I think that the low weight of culture in the ranking could be questioned.

I did not recalculate the numbers but I don’t think that giving more weight to culture would have changed the ranking but, since the numbers in this columns are often the lowest, it would have significantly lowered the final overall grades and we would have realized that maybe the more advanced one were not that champions (and I don’t even mention the others…).

Or maybe we were all wrong and digital success is possible even without the right culture (knowing this is the column where all companies get their lowest grade But I’ll come back to these point later…

So, the methodology. Companies are assessed based on their online presence, their technological mastery, openness toward the ecosystem and their culture. Right. Sounds logical. But are these factors enough to say how digitally mature a company is ?

The first thing I notice is the usual and regrettable disappearance of the internal side of digital transformation. Meeting the challenge of innovation, of agility, flexibility without the right management, technology and collaborative practices to keep the promise the company makes to the market is not a challenge but a dream. So, a digital maturity framework should, at least, take collaboration and processes into account.

There’s no digital maturity without the right management and processes

Online presence is important but is not enough. It would be better if complemented by customer relationship and customer experience. Being present means occupying a space, building an efficient customer relationship requires a real transformation. Being succesful at one does not imply being successful at the other. More, taking customer relationship/experience into account would help to see if what happens digitally and physically is coherent, what is an evidence of digital maturity.

By the way, it may explain why it’s possible to be good at online presence while having poor marks in culture : having a good presence only requires a couple of people with the right DNA and mindset. Building a customer relationship and experience worth the name requires a collective culture and a framework of shared values. We’re far from that.

So I sum up. Online presence, customer relationship and experience, openness to the the digital ecosystem, management, collaboration, processes, technological mastery ? Am I missing something ? Maybe something related to data, not from a technology perspective but rather on understanding data science and implementing it in decision making processes.

Digital maturity and performance are not the same

Last point. We discussed the measure of digital maturity but is being a champion a matter of maturity or performance. Performance requires maturity but maturity does not mean performance. So, in my list, I suggest two levels of indicators : those related to maturity and those related to digital performance.

Your opinion ?



Image Credit : Digital Champion via Shutterstock