Guiding principles of technology innovators

November 2, 2015



PwC’s 2015 Digital Survey IQ results explore what digital leaders do to capitalize on their technology investments and drive stronger performance.


How do you define digital? If you’re like 53% of respondents to our annual Digital IQ® survey, you see technology innovation and digital synonymously. Since 2007, PwC has surveyed business and technology executives to glean insight into how they view technology and align it with their strategic business goals to achieve growth.

The overarching finding of this year’s survey of nearly 2,000 business and technology executives is that digital is pervading and changing the enterprise. Transformation is happening at such a rapid rate the hinges on the enterprise doors are rattling.

Consider the following data points:

  1. 73% of respondents said their CEO is a champion of digital, a dramatic increase from 57% in 2013.
  2. Nearly one-third of respondents (31%) say their companies are investing more than 15% of revenue into technology investments that span all areas of the business, not just IT.
  3. 68% of technology spending is outside of the CIO’s budget, up from almost 50% last year.

When change comes from the top, it’s typically fast and furious. The quick clip of transformation can easily cause businesses to lose sight of what it takes to generate a return on digital investments. How do companies keep their eye on the prize—shareholder value—in the midst of sweeping and swift change?

We analyzed the Digital IQ data to determine what digital leaders do differently from the pack to capitalize on their technology investments. Here are some of the guiding principles that define who they are as digital leaders. (For a complete list, you can download the survey.)

Digital permeates the enterprise

Everyone in the organization is involved in living and breathing the digital strategy. Business leaders use technology to spread the word and rally employees to execute the strategy. They film videos, engage employees via social media, and leverage smartphones to increase awareness of the goal and to generate discussion about how digital affects their employees.

Outside-in learning stimulates breakthrough thinking

Top-performing companies look outside their four walls for breakthrough, innovative ideas. Vendors or customers are rich sources of ideas for how to leverage technology. The digitally dominant are also more likely to let the technology itself inspire innovation as opposed to positioning the business agenda as the driving force. A broad view of innovation fuels a desire to consistently seek opportunities to digitize the business.

Data is a source of confidence

Top-performing companies see more potential in making use of their data than lower-performing ones. They see the most promise in third-party data (78%), cloud application data (70%), social media data (69%), and location-aware data (64%)

Measurement is a must have

Business leaders demand to see the value they’re achieving from digital investments. Top-performing companies lead lower-performing on the measurement front. (79% vs. 72%). Leaders mix traditional metrics (like ROI) with more disruptive measures to track growth. Boards are increasingly taking a strong interest here. They’re expanding their focus from solely risk-based metrics to more broad-based “cyber metrics,” concentrating on the 10 to 15 most meaningful for the company, such as trends identified as a result of data capture activities impacting company strategy.

The bottom line is that digital leaders fully embrace digital, and they expect their investments to drive growth and create competitive advantage. Our Digital IQ analysis of nearly 2,000 executives demonstrates that the goal is attainable—if business leaders take a systematic approach to their efforts.



Chris Curran

Principal and Chief Technologist, PwC US Tel: +1 (214) 754 5055 Email

Vicki Huff Eckert

Global New Business & Innovation Leader Tel: +1 (650) 387 4956 Email

Mark McCaffery

US Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Leader Tel: +1 (408) 817 4199 Email