Mastering the art of digital transformation can pay big dividends for a business, a new study from FTI Consulting finds, but successfully executing that digital transformation is harder than it might seem.

“The Power of Communications: Unlocking Growth Through Digital Transformation” reports that the businesses in FTI’s study who had completed a digital transformation expected to see more than nine percent extra organic growth than their peers who had not completed such a transformation (27 percent vs. 18 percent).

A digital transformation also appears to have a positive effect on sales, with companies who have finished that process racking up, on average, double the turnover of those who have not done so.

But the survey respondents proved to be surprisingly slow at taking up the digital challenge, with only about three out 10 (31 percent) saying they had completed a digital transformation. And complicating that challenge is the fact that only 25 percent of respondents felt that their digital transformation was truly successful.

The study uncovers what it says are four critical factors that companies need to be aware of when putting a digital transformation in place.

The Power of Communications: Unlocking Growth Through Digital Transformation” report from FTI Consulting

First, it concludes that effective communications to key stakeholder throughout the entire process is essential to a transformation program’s success. Almost eight out of 10 respondents (78 percent) said that engaging stakeholders during a digital transformation helps them understand unanticipated issues and produce solutions.

Companies also need to ensure that employee feedback plays a key role in any digital transformation. More than four in 10 business (41 percent) who reported successfully completed a transition said that employee feedback was a trigger for implementing the process.

Having a CEO who is prepared and on board is also key. Almost two-thirds of the businesses that reported having a successfully digital transformation said their CEOs were “low risk-takers” (i.e., meticulous planners who focus on long-term rewards).

Finally, the report says that when implement a digital transformation, companies should focus on the ability to use analytics to measure reputational impact, and then adapt when necessary.

“There has never been a more important time for companies to get digital transformation right – and yet so many of the companies we surveyed felt they were failing in their efforts,” said Jon Priestley, a managing director in FTI Consulting’s digital & insights team within the strategic communications segment. “The role of reputation measurement and stakeholder engagement has clearly emerged as the difference between those rising to the challenge of an ever-more digitized world and those businesses that are falling by the wayside.”

FTI surveyed 600 C-suite and senior manager level decision makers ad large companies across the UK, France and Germany from January 20-27.