When It Comes To Transformation, Simple Is Always Best, Get Going, And Move Quickly

Florian Wagner

Many digital maturity assessments exist, but most are quite complex and time consuming or lead toward a specific vendor’s solution. We propose an alternative, much simpler approach, designed to bring quick, clear focus to proven key success factors.

We have found these are particularly useful in executive workshop settings (from large industrial companies, to technology companies, to consumer goods and media players) where the leadership team is trying to gain alignment on whether and how to proceed. The simple assessment questions below are a starting point for the conversations we have with leaders across a range of industries, so are necessarily high-level. The approach focuses efforts on the degree to which maturity has been achieved and strategic actions and next steps, rather than simplistic, tactical snapshots of the status quo. The approach can also serve as a basis for supporting the organizational behavior change many of our clients seek in parallel with their digital transformation.


  • To what degree do the CIO and IT recognize the importance of leading/driving a digital business innovation agenda?
  • To what degree is the CIO a key leader of digital business innovation?
  • How mature is IT’s drive of the digital business innovation function and culture?

Digital strategy

  • How well defined is the company-wide, CEO or board-driven business transformation agenda?
  • To what degree has the company committed to a comprehensive digital strategy that is aligned with your business transformation agenda?
  • To what degree does your leadership have a clear portfolio management approach to evaluate the risks and rewards of digital transformation?

Innovation model

  • To what degree do business peers look to IT as their co-innovation partner?
  • To what degree does your innovation model work enterprise-wide through agile, cross-functional teams with a well-managed portfolio of innovations?
  • To what degree is your organization ahead of competitors in its ability to leverage technology to drive innovation and financial results in both business processes and business models?

IT operations

  • To what degree has IT built a roadmap to close its tools and skills gaps between what is required and what is in place today to deliver on your digital strategy?
  • To what degree do business teams leverage IT’s tools and skills to drive digital business innovation ?
  • To what degree does IT blend security, reliability, openness, and agility to support both ongoing operations and innovation?


  • To what degree does IT have the end-to-end technical and commercial platforms required to facilitate effective digital transformation?
  • To what degree does IT have a clear plan for developing the technology platforms (owning or joining industry platforms, Big Data analytics, and APIs) required to facilitate value creation across your entire ecosystem?
  • To what degree is your organization clear about its relationship to the platform business models emerging in your value ecosystem (own, co-develop, join, counter)?

To ensure long-term success, reassess the factors at the appropriate levels (departmental, enterprise-wide) and cadences (monthly, quarterly, bi-annually).

There are two reasons for keeping this assessment at a very high level at this stage. First, the key to success in digital business innovation is quickly cycling through the build, measure, and learn loop. Assessment is key to the measuring and learning steps. By making the assessment simple, we hope to dramatically increase the frequency of assessment and the speed of your build-measure-learn loop.

Second, a high-level assessment will help CIOs focus their thinking and activity on strategic change rather than on business as usual (often as a tactical service provider to the enterprise). This regular zooming out to gain perspective and clarity is key to the long-term success of digital business leadership.

Benefits of the assessment

In summary, by working through these questions, the assessment can:

  1. Help CIOs begin and manage their transformation journey based on industry best practices and field research
  1. Establish a common, benchmarked framework to clarify the requirements for successful digital transformation
  1. Identify investment opportunities for CIOs to explore in establishing digital business leadership
  1. Define a roadmap and order of operations
  1. Help identify go-forward activities, starting with those that directly drive the final results and those that will require partnership and collaboration

If a far more granular view would be helpful, use SAP’s Digital Innovation and Transformation Assessment.

Florian Wagner

About Florian Wagner

Florian Wagner is marketing director for IT audience messaging at SAP. Together with his team, he is responsible to address the IT audience and to drive relevant thought leadership topics. He writes about technology trends on digital transformation, cloud and platform strategies with a focus on customer experiences.