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Who’s moving fastest in the race to digital?

Every global company is in a race to digitalisation – whether they realise it or not. In Europe, some companies are making faster progress than others, and this puts them in a more competitive position to grow their business. But who’s moving the fastest?

Our new research report The Digital Enterprise digs into the qualities of Digital Leaders, which we define as the businesses progressing fastest in their digital transformation. The research, which was conducted by IDC, looked at progress by country, company size and industry.

So why become a digital enterprise? Companies that transform their business with emerging technologies gain an advantage over their competitors, because they can create new products faster, improve customer engagement and enter new markets sooner. So, your finish in the digital race will impact your growth.

Vive la France!

French businesses are leading the pack. Combined, nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents from that country rated their progress as either “fast” (39 percent) or “very fast” (8 percent). Germany was the next-speediest country at a combined 39 percent, while the UK came in at 37 percent. Spain (37 percent) and Switzerland (36 percent) rounded out the top 5.

Progress seems to be closely tied to priority. The countries that put the biggest emphasis on digital transformation also seem to be home to the fastest-moving companies. German businesses, for example, have been stimulated by a national drive towards Industry 4.0  which is reflected in the fact­­ that 50 percent of companies in that country say it’s “critical” for them to be a digital enterprise in the long-term.  

The Goldilocks zone

In terms of company size, midsize enterprises (between 1,000 and 2,499 employees) seem to have just the right mix of resources and agility to transform quickly. Forty-two percent of respondents at companies of that size ranked their progress as either fast or very fast, followed up by 40 percent for the largest enterprises. 

Financial services businesses are also moving faster than any other industry, outranking energy producers, media companies, retailers and education providers. It’s not surprising that digital is a priority in this competitive industry, where the speed of trading is measured by the millisecond. Finance companies should benefit from close access to IT resources in key European markets. London, for example, is a major technology hub for finance, giving companies in the City the resources they need to scale.   

Becoming a Digital Leader

So, what do you do if you want to win the digital race?

You can start by acting like Digital Leaders do, and look to take advantage of flexible IT infrastructure. According to the survey, 63 percent of the fastest-movers said the flexibility and performance of their IT infrastructure was the key success factor to transformation.

To achieve flexibility, Digital Leaders plan to rely less on on-premises data centres and more on hybrid cloud and colocation solutions. More than half say they either currently use or plan to switch to a hybrid cloud data centre strategy, and 33 percent said they specifically plan to increase their use of third-party data centres in the next three years.

Besides the cost benefits, colocation is a strategic decision. Respondents said they’re switching because they want to move their IT resources closer to their customers and at the same time to house data and apps that can’t migrate to the cloud. In other words, Digital Leaders choose colocation as a way to improve quality of service and operations.

The bottom line is that Europe’s major economies are moving fastest toward digital transformation, and flexible off-premises strategies support that transition. It could be time to take a harder look at hybrid cloud and colocation as a growth strategy for your own business.

To learn more, download the full report below, and view our infographic with the top results.