The most digitally sustainable industries and countries revealed

These industries are not only digitally mature, but are forever changing and adapting to market conditions.

Surprisingly, the most digitally sustainable industry is not the technology sector.

That title actually goes to the Financial Services Industry, which was ranked highest in Korn Ferry’s latest Digital Sustainability Index.

Technology came in second, followed by life sciences and healthcare, industrials and finally consumer companies.

As part of the study, researchers analysed 362 companies in 14 countries and across five industries. The ranking is based on five core leadership and organisational dimensions of digital sustainability: agility, connectivity, discipline and focus, openness and transparency, and empowerment and alignment.

Being digitally sustainable is pivotal, as the index shows a correlation to profitability. High performers in the Digital Sustainability Index see a 5.6 percentage point increase in yearly profit margin (EBITDA) versus the low performers.

“Being digitally mature today is not enough: the new economy demands companies that are built to change, forever iterating,” said Melissa Swift, Korn Ferry Hay Group Global Digital Solutions Leader.

“Leaders must recognise that with new products, services and brands entering the market at lightning speed, transformation is needed not just once, but over and over again.” 

Across countries, researchers found that the US is most digitally sustainable on the whole.

However, experts warn that to keep its top spot, US companies must look beyond pure-play technology to the human side of maintaining success.

“US organisations must focus on improving the people aspect of their business operations if they are to continue as digital sustainability leaders and gain the long-term financial advantages associated with it,” said Karin Lucas, President, North America Korn Ferry Hay Group.

The UK ranked second out of the 14 countries included in the report.

“The traditional dominance of the UK as a digital economy leader could be under threat from rising global players, unless steps are taken to invest strategically, build a skilled, specialised workforce, and develop enviable networks, at home and abroad,” said Matt Crosby, a Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner based in London.

“Indeed, the government needs to consider increasing connections beyond its borders now more than ever to drive partnerships, strengthen trade and share ideas and innovation.”

The three countries that were at the bottom of the list on the Korn Ferry Digital Sustainability Index were Mexico (No. 12), Brazil (No. 13) and Turkey (No. 14).

“Clearly there are vast discrepancies in organisations’ capacity to continuously adapt to the digital economy across industries and regions,” said Swift. “But even for those companies that rank highly in the study, continuous improvement in this area is critical not only for success, but for survival.”  

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