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Find your place on the digital maturity curve

Future growth and savings means investing in AI, IoT, automation and data management.


Welcome to the
End of the Beginning

As we move beyond the early days of the new modern economy, decision makers wonder which strategic investments make the best sense. Which initiatives will yield the best returns and boost their digital maturity? How do they compare with their peers?

To find the answers, we surveyed roughly 2,500 business and technology leaders from multiple industries globally that collectively account for about $21.6 trillion in annual revenue.

Categories of Digital Maturity

To better understand what a leader looks like, we created a digital maturity score to:

Determine how much businesses should be investing in digital as a percent of revenue today and in the near future.

Gain insight into the investments yielding the greatest returns, as well as the next best areas of focus.

Illuminate how returns fluctuate based on digital maturity level.

Respondents were placed into one of four categories:

80–100th percentile


55–80th percentile


30–55th percentile


30th percentile

Invest in AI, IoT, automation and data

Lighting the Way to the Digital Economy


The details of how you use software to compete and win will be specific to your company and your customers, but it's certain that software—up and down every value chain in every industry and sector—will only get more essential to creating value.

Key findings from our digital maturity research

Investing in AI: Moving Along the Digital Maturity Curve

Digitally mature businesses are more likely to consider themselves at an advanced stage of AI adoption, according to our recent study, enabling them to turn data into insights at the scale and precision required today.

Percent of respondents who said they are getting "moderate" or "high" returns on these investments.
Becoming digital pays off.

As businesses move from digital laggards to leaders, they can expect net benefits equal to 9% of revenue, unlocking total value of $770 million for the average-size company in our study.

As beginners become leaders, they can increase their net benefits (revenue minus cost) from 2.7% to 9% of revenue.
Humans are still at the digital center.

Among advancers and leaders in our study, 48% said a top lesson learned was to start their initiatives with human insight. Leaders align new technologies with human requirements—workforce transformation, improving consumer and employee experiences, etc.

Percent of respondents saying high positive impact on revenue/cost.
Beginner Leader
Workforce transformation Cost 17% 28%
Revenue 18% 29%
Human-centric, tech-enabled products and services Cost 9% 15%
Revenue 11% 22%

About our study

  • Global and cross-industry
    Companies studied collectively account for about $21.6 trillion in annual revenue.

    We conducted our study with ESI ThoughtLab of 2,491 C-level executives and their direct reports across four regions and 12 industries and from a mix of enterprise functions. In addition, ESI ThoughtLab conducted interviews with senior executives in more than 20 companies across industries and world locations.

  • 12 industries represented
    Each industry represented 8% to 9% of the sample, or approximately 200 respondents per industry.
    • Healthcare payers
    • Healthcare providers
    • Technology hardware and software
    • Consumer products
    • Financial services
    • Industrial manufacturing
    • Insurance
    • Life sciences
    • Media/entertainment/publishing
    • Retail
    • Telecommunications
    • Utilities
  • Executives surveyed
    Respondents by title


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