Digital evolution: what corporate directors and executives think

Findings from the 2020 director survey on digital transformation


The message is loud and clear—the future is digital. Many companies are investing time and money in digital transformations. But these shifts require focus from management and the board, as well as alignment between the two. How well do boards understand management’s plans? And are boards and management aligned on these transitions?

PwC and Corporate Board Member surveyed more than 200 public company directors on the topic of digital transformation at their companies. We compared their responses to those provided by US executives in PwC’s 2020 Global Digital IQ survey, and we found a clear gap between corporate directors and executives.

Here’s what we found.

Corporate directors experience a digital disconnect

Executives overestimate corporate directors’ understanding of digital issues and their level of overall knowledge and support of digital business strategies. If executives can’t accurately gauge the board’s knowledge level, they can’t effectively tailor their messaging around a digital transformation.

Director and executive disconnect

The digital playing field: Ahead of the pack? Not according to corporate directors

Directors think their company lags behind competitors, but executives have a much more positive view. Executives are in the trenches day-to-day, so it’s natural that they may have a more optimistic perspective. The question is whether executives are telling the board the whole story or if directors are relying on their other board experience for some healthy skepticism.

Competitor technology innovation

Is digital transformation a journey or a destination?

Directors and executives have different perspectives on how to define a transformation timeline. This disconnect could be partially due to a difference of perspective, with directors taking the long view and executives working with measurable periods.

Defining a digital transformation timeline

Getting your workforce ready for digital prime time

Digital transformation demands new skills, and many companies are upskilling their workforce to bridge the talent gap. Corporate directors and executives both see barriers to the upskilling effort, though they have different opinions as to what’s getting in the way. 

Barriers to upskilling your workforce

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Maria Castañón Moats

Maria Castañón Moats

Governance Insights Center Leader, PwC US

Paul DeNicola

Paul DeNicola

Principal, Governance Insights Center, PwC US

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