Driving strategy

Rethinking how we lead and plan for digital initiatives

Digital IQ 2017—Canadian insights


of Canadian vs. 14% of global organizations see “digital” as just about customer-facing technology activity


of Canadian vs. 52% of global executives see “digital” holistically, meaning as a mindset, way of working or covering all technology and innovation-related activities


of Canadian vs. 19% of global executives expect digital investments to improve decision making

Defining digital

Digital has evolved from being synonymous with IT to a more all-encompassing approach to technology and its impact on innovation, culture and business. On the whole, Canadians see digital more as a customer-facing activity, often at the expense of fully integrating digital into the culture of a business. Compared to their global counterparts, Canadian executives are also less likely to think about digital holistically, suggesting organizations may soon have to play catch-up. Since Canadians’ definition of digital is narrow, executives should start thinking more broadly about how they can evolve their entire enterprise—people, operations and strategy—through technology.

CIO’s shift in responsibility

Q: Which of these best describes your CIO’s key responsibilities?

Canadian stat: 11% today (13% globally) Canadian stat: 25% in three years (16% globally)
Leading internal IT efforts only, with limited to no ownership of or influence over innovation or market-facing digital
Canadian stat: 43% today (43% globally) Canadian stat: 34% in three years (35% globally)
Leading all investments and efforts, including innovation and market-facing initiatives
Canadian stat: 46% today (44% globally) Canadian stat: 41% in three years (49% globally)
Leading internal IT efforts and innovation

Who’s responsible for digital?

Today, Canadian CEOs are seen as responsible for big-picture digital planning, such as setting digital strategy and prioritizing investments. Often the job of digital innovation and implementation falls to the CIO, who has the highest Digital IQ and is seen as responsible for developing new digital services, data analytics and emerging technology. Interestingly, digital responsibility is more dispersed among executives in Canada than globally, with Canadian business unit leaders more likely to control the user experience and customer-facing services.

But over the next three years, Canadian CIOs are expected to shift their focus away from innovation and more toward internal IT and execution activity than their global peers. Success in the future will rely on the distribution of digital thinking—with all executives and business teams sharing responsibility for driving strategy and innovation. On this front, Canadian organizations seem to be doing quite well, with room for further growth.

Share of responsibility for selected digital activities

Top digital responsibilities by role



Setting digital strategy

48% global


Prioritizing digital investments

49% global



Developing new digital services and business models

48% global


Data and analytics

50% global

Business unit leaders


User experience design

19% global


Data analytics

32% global

The value of digital strategy

Overall, Canadians are upbeat about the principles of digital strategy. In fact, 7 out of 10 executives in Canada incorporate digital strategy into corporate strategy. But they’re not as focused on the details of its implementation, such as developing roadmaps, measuring outcomes and improving decision making. What’s more, while 44% of organizations globally say their strategy function is exploring emerging technology, only 29% of Canadians agree.

Despite slow progress in developing digital strategies, executives say digital can have a transformative effect on the bottom line. In Canada, 8 out of 10 respondents name revenue growth as their biggest expectation from digital investments. And Canadians are more likely than their global peers to make digital investments for competitive advantage (82% vs. 73%). We still have a ways to go before we’re truly digital organizations, despite growing evidence that new technologies and businesses will continue to disrupt entire industries.

Measuring digital success

Canadian stat: 79%
say revenue growth is their most important expectation of any digital investment

57% globally

Canadian stat: 64%
have a single, multi-year roadmap that includes business capabilities as well as digital and IT components

66% globally

Canadian stat: 57%
consistently measure outcomes from digital investments

64% globally

Canadian stat: 13%
expect digital investments to improve decision making

19% globally


Business considersations

Redefine digital: Leaders must expand their organizations’ understanding of what digital means, develop a shared perspective on digital priorities and define the roles needed to drive the transformation.

Start a digital dialogue: Once leaders are committed to a strategy, bring the whole organization on board. This way, employees know how technology will drive value and reinvent the way they work. Engage other stakeholders in this conversation, too.

Get a full view of digital investments: Understand what other functions are investing in and how each connects to your digital roadmap. This lets you balance digital investments across business units, plan ahead and move toward a shared goal.

Link outcomes to strategic goals: It’s important to set clear timelines and benchmarks for performance targets to help support the overall strategic goals.


Contact us

Philip Grosch

Philip Grosch

Partner, Global Commercial Excellence Impact Centre Lead, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 814 5855

Nadir Hirji

Nadir Hirji

Partner, Digital Services Leader, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 687 8417

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