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The Digital Fluency Payoff

One year since COVID put a stop to everyday living, market analysts are taking stock of its economic impact. If there is one thing they can agree on, the virus accelerated the digital transformation of businesses, creating an organizational divide between those skillfully realigning strategies and those protecting the status quo. 

McKinsey found that organizations implemented COVID-related digital or digitally enhanced offerings 20 to 25 times faster than expected. Corporations leaping into the future also turned to outside ventures in addition to changes from within. According to a report from CBInsights, corporate venture capital funding deals rose 24% to $40.2 billion in 2020, an all-time high.

A new global study of $2 billion-plus companies from MIT Sloan School found that those with digitally-savvy executive teams now outperform their counterparts by more than 48% in terms of growth and valuation. On the flip side, just 7% of companies are helmed by digitally-savvy management teams. 

This deficit creates opportunities to innovate structures and communications practices. MIT's research suggests this a moment of truth for senior decision-makers: back up innovation pursuits with necessary senior talent or lag competition and changing needs of customers.  

Brands like 
Dunkin’ went from zero to 14% of sales on mobile during COVID. Epic Games is challenging Big Tech to offer the first truly immersive digital experience. And closer to home, media and entertainment industries completely reimagined content consumption when we needed new models most. These digitally-led companies aren't on the fringes, they’re innovative incumbents building value across all sectors.

MIT's report adds, "In the coming months, as the global economy begins to recover from pandemic-induced slowdowns, the digital savviness of top teams will make the difference between the winners and the also-rans across industries and geographies.” Moving quickly and understanding the full picture of digital fluency will be required of these top teams. 

Digital mastery isn't simply about installing more software to make operations more efficient. The savviest teams deeply understand the effects of living online — and how that changes customer sensibilities, sources, and self-sufficiency in making decisions.

This fluency requires constant experimentation and anticipation of what's next. 
To be among the most digitally savvy, leaders must face transformation, head-on, with new structures and partners to bridge gaps and identify emerging ones. If MIT is right, the payoff of being in front is more than worth the investment.

Chris Perry


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What We're Reading
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Media Intelligence
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Severe weather hobbled the electrical grid in Texas, but it did not hobble the United States’ disinformation supply chain. In just a few days, deceptive outlets created a misleading narrative blaming the power outages on wind turbine failures. Then the narrative went viral. How did a thread of truth get spun into a web of falsehoods? GMF breaks it down. 

New Influence
For Creators, Everything Is for Sale
By Taylor Lorenz, The New York Times

A rash of new start-ups are making it easier for digital creators to monetize every aspect of their life — down to what they eat, who they hang out with, and who they respond to on TikTok. The crypto world has also proved enticing for creators looking to monetize interactions, particularly NFTs (more on those below). 

Emerging Technology
Inside The Newest Crypto Craze: The NFT
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There’s a new sensation on the crypto block, and all of a sudden it’s become a market worth hundreds of millions of dollars: non-fungible tokens, aka NFTs. They are much more than the latest hottest gadget. From NBA rookie sensation LaMelo Ball to rapper Post Malone and singer Grimes, the concept of original digital content — think first draft of a masterpiece novel or an original Picasso, but in digital form — has piqued the interest of creatives everywhere.

Deep Take
Shaping 2025 and Beyond
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What will the next five years bring? From an increase in veganism to a decline in moderate thinking, this report from Ipsos describes plausible, thought-provoking scenarios to help governments, businesses and societies strategize.

Copyright © 2021 Weber Shandwick

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